The artwork, The Black Cone, Monument to Civil Disobedience consists of a 180 cm high monolith and will be placed in front of the Icelandic Parliament building at Austurvöllur on Friday 20 January at 1 p.m. The performance is a reminder of the importance of civil liberties, including the right to refuse to obey certain laws and commands of a government. During the performance, the monolith will be cracked with a black cone to show the impact that protests can have. The black cone, which will be left in the crack after the performance, alludes to black cone-shaped hats that condemned persons were forced to wear for humiliation during the Inquisition in the 12th century. Attached to the monument is a plaque, with an article from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, which served as a preamble to a constitution that was adopted by the French National Constituent Assembly in 1793:
“When the government violates the rights of the people, insurrection is for the people and for each portion of the people the most sacred of rights and the most indispensable of duties.”
This declaration, which presents the most fundamental principles of the French Revolution, has great importance at this time. The date of the performance was selected because of historical protests that took place at Austurvöllur, Reykjavik exactly three years ago (on 20 January 2009), when thousands of protesters gathered on Austurvöllur on the occasion of the Parliament’s first meeting after Christmas break. The performance commemorates this protest and a wave of protests that have taken place around the world in the last few years, from the Arabic Spring to the Occupation of Wall Street.
The artwork will be standing at Austurvöllur until the end of Santiago Sierra’s exhibition at Reykjavik Art Museum – Hafnarhús, 30 April 2012.