Imaginary Museum of Revolutions

1988 Paris, France
Coauthors: Jeffrey Shaw, Tjebbe van Tijen

Software: Gideon May

This project was submitted to an official French competition for the Commémoration du Bicentenaire de la Révolution Française, but was not realized. A mockup was presented at Inventer 89 in La Villete, Paris. The Brucknerhaus, in Linz, Austria, commissioned the production and installation of a pilot version.

The commemoration of the bicentenary of the French revolution of 1789, in 1989 was the context of this proposal in which two hundred years of ‘revolutionary moments’ from all over the world are to be represented by two hundred replicas of monuments and sculptures that directly or indirectly represent a revolution. These monument replicas—all made to the same size (slightly larger than human)—are brought together in one place where visitors can walk around them and trigger revolutionary songs by touching each statue. 

In the middle of this monument field there is a circular enclosure with dispenser machines at the entrance where visitors can buy mini replicas of these revolution monuments. Inside the enclosure there are several interactive videodisc installations, each with several screens. Each installation has a sensor that recognizes the mini replica bought by the user, which triggers their point of entry into the database of revolutions. By way of a touch screen the visitor can travel in time, space and ideology, while an icon-based classification system shows the ideological components of each revolutionary moment through three elements: actors, actions and motifs.

Revolutions can be grouped in extremely diverse ways. It may involve slight distinctions between more closely related concepts such as insurrection, riot, rebellion and revolt or diametrically opposed interpretations of the same event such as revolution and counter-revolution. The same forms can acquire completely different meanings in other places and at other times: army mutinies, banditry or guerillas, civil rights movements, boycotts or civil disobedience. In this installation the commemoration of the French Revolution implies that this arena of debate, of differing opinions and conflicting ideas must once again be broached. By showing different kinds of revolutions worldwide, from different areas and including their various interpretations, the authors of this project intend to express the multifaceted aspects of the concept ‘revolution’.

Exhibition Record

1988/05/29 - 06/04 : Image and Sound 88, Filmhuis, The Hague, Netherlands

1988/06/03 - 06/12 : Inventer 89, La Villette, Cité des Sciences et de l´Industrie, Paris, France

1988/06/11 - 06/19 : De Haagse Zomer, Den Haag, Netherlands

1989/02/10 - 03/19 : Tekens van Verzet, Fodor Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

1989/05/05 - 05/08 : Zyklus Arbeit 89, Brucknerhaus, Linz, Austria

1989/09/03 - 10/01 : IS in de HAL, KunstHal, Rotterdam, Netherlands