This research is concerned with the shifting meaning and role of monuments in the social context of cities nowadays. Monuments play a significant role in shaping a collective memory of people, cultures, and places. Yet, the architectural proclaim of a situated ideology reveals the controversial nature of the monument’s meaning due to its inability to achieve and retain unanimity through time. In order to think differently of a monument, one that would challenge the power order that promotes a specific idea of history, the study argues that the collective meaning of the urban monuments must be investigated in relation to the practice of everyday life. Can the notion of use be applied to a monument? What defines a useful monument? The research follows a design-driven methodology, initiating an investigation through a performative art-based architectural project called How to Use a Monument, which took place in February 2020 at Saint-Denis victory gate in Paris.
Keywords: monuments; public art; urban phenomenology