From September 16 through December 9, 2018, artist lauren woods was slated to actively transform the University Art Museum (UAM) at California State University Long Beach (CSULB) into a monument that prompts consideration of the cultural circumstances under which African-Americans have lost their lives to police brutality. The new-media monument is conceived to be nomadic and continually expanding, with the UAM serving as its launch site and steward. The artwork provides a vehicle by which to analyze the complex relationship between the construction of race, material violence and structural power. Six days before its opening, UAM director Kimberli Meyer was removed from her post. The public co-creative process to complete the monument began on September 16 with an artist’s talk by lauren woods, and was paused thirty minutes later by the artist in protest.
In recent years, evidence of police violence has reached a new level of exposure, allowing more public access to formal investigations of police brutality. Examining cases in which a police officer killed a black civilian, woods focuses on language used in justifying the fatal incidents. She identifies dominant cultural narratives that appear in mass media and filter into law enforcement and the justice system. The artwork provides space to ponder how the law is created, interpreted, enacted, and perpetuated.
The centerpiece of American MONUMENT is an interactive sound installation that utilizes sources from open records requests including police reports, court transcripts, and witness testimonies; as well as audio files captured by bystanders. Visitors are invited to pick up the needle on any turntable, put it on a record, and activate the sound sculpture.
If and when American MONUMENT @ UAM CSULB is un-paused, we invite the public and the CSULB community to take part in the co-creation of this iteration of the monument by participating in the public programs occurring during American MONUMENT’s residence at the UAM. Each return visit will offer a fresh perspective as the monument continues to update itself over time.
The artist’s statement is here: https://americanmonument.blog/
The video documentation of her performance of the statement is here: https://americanmonument.blog/american-monument-videos/
American MONUMENT has been organized by former UAM Director Kimberli Meyer.
American MONUMENT @ UAM CSULB has been generously supported by the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, the Pasadena Art Alliance, the CSULB Museum Studies Program, the CSULB Instructionally Related Activities Fund, the Associated Students Inc., the Ware Endowment, the Charles and Elizabeth Brooks Endowment, and the Constance W. Glenn Fund for Exhibition and Education Programs. Additional support has been provided by the Grand Central Art Center, Martin Brenner, Sara Daleiden, Shelleen Greene, and the UAM Advisory Board. Special thanks to Nadin Adam, Diego Alvarez, Terri Armstrong, Charles Gaines, Naima Keith, Melissa Raybon, Nizan Shaked, and John Spiak.