PLANT: fallen firefighters

Proposed Memorial to Canadian Fallen Firefighters. PLANT + Douglas Coupland, 2010

from PLANT's website:  PLANT and Douglas Coupland have been awarded the commission for the Canadian Fallen Firefighters Memorial in Ottawa. The competition jury selected from among five collaborative teams. The project will begin design development this fall, with a projected completion date of Autumn 2012. 

One of the sticking points with the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington is the obligatory presence of over-sized bronze soldiers nearby, something insisted on by Vietnam veterans themselves, not sufficiently versed in the power of the abstract statement.  Such statues, of soldiers, or flyers, or seamen, or firefighters, or nurses are either shown engaged in battle, or are standing exhausted after it.  Leaders are shown in dress uniform standing tall and stern, untouched, as in real life, by the grit of fighting.

PLANT+Coupland's proposal clearly refers to Maya Lin's Vietnam project: also a wall, also engraved with names, also shaped in some meaningful way, although from this one press release image it isn't quite clear what the shape refers to.  It also refers to the controversy over memorials and the degree of representation needed to show effectively the collective individual tragedies that constitute natural and man-made disaster.

In this firefighters memorial, the naturalistic bronze statue points at the abstract list of names.  We are admonished. We are not out for a pleasant day on LeBreton Flats looking at the increasing array of national monuments and memorials, we are being told to go and look at this particular sacrifice.  We are being instructed.  It is quite exhausting.