Sic transit gloria mundi is the announcement of a “monument to the fall of Western hegemony”.
A building site, information centre and souvenir shop encourage the visitor to visualise the fictional monument and, by extension, a time in which the West is a less dominant world presence. In the design, a gigantic marble statue of a toppled white Caucasian man asks spectators to reconsider their personal position of power, too.
High wooden hoardings separate the building site from the city – it’s an invasive gesture, the city’s people are shut out. A feeling that is amplified by advertising posters in Arabic, Russian and Chinese. It’s not until people enter the visitor centre that they see the building site and witness an endlessly repetitive choreography of non-Western labourers assembling and dismantling a statue. The only tangible element that seems remindful of the monolith is a gargantuan white hand that is continually moved around the site.
An ‘artist impression’, a digital animation and scale model give visitors an idea of the design. A text and photos contextualise the suggested monument. The souvenir shop installs the idea that the collapse of one system creates capital elsewhere. Together, these ingredients lead the viewer to meander between irony and earnest. Should we long for, fear, or embrace the West’s putative decline? The answer is ambiguous.
The title (Latin for “Thus passes the glory of the world”) is the phrase used in the past during the ritual of Papal coronation ceremonies.