American Monument to launch at The Beall Center for Art + Technology
The Beall Center for Art + Technology at University of California Irvine (UCI) presents American Monument, an artwork by lauren woods that examines the cultural conditions under which African-Americans lose their lives to police brutality.
American Monument is a participatory inter-media monument, conceived as nomadic and continually expanding, moving across the country year-to-year. The Beall Center installation will be the first full iteration of the project. The artwork provides a vehicle for analyzing the complex relationship between the construction of race, material violence, structural power, and monumentality itself.
Close readings of use-of-force reports, prosecutor reports, witness testimonies, 911 calls, and bystander and body/dashcam videos have revealed a consistent and disturbing problem: police use of white dominant cultural constructions and stereotypes of “Blackness,” mined from pop culture, are employed to justify fatal violence.
The centerpiece of American Monument is an interactive sound sculpture. Encountering a grid of silently spinning black and white turntables on pedestals, visitors may choose to play an acetate record of audio materials gleaned from open record requests, setting the apparatus and sound in motion. Each turntable represents one police murder. Supporting the main sculpture is a growing display of documents associated with each case, providing the opportunity to ponder law as a culture.
The Beall Center has welcomed project co-leaders artist lauren woods and curator/cultural producer Kimberli Meyer as researchers in residence as part of its Black Box Project. The residency has connected them with leading thinkers across disciplines at UCI, resulting in collaborations with UCI School of Law and The Center on Law, Equality and Race (CLEAR); and the departments of African American Studies, Social Ecology, Art History, and Art.
The Beall launch invites scholars, lawyers, community activists, civil rights leaders, students, artists, and the general public to process and discuss issues addressed by American Monument through think-tanks and public forums. At the end of this collaborative production process, the monument will be “unveiled” with a public symposium February 7-8, 2020, to signal the completion of this iteration.
To receive project-specific updates and invitations, please join the list at http://beallcenter.uci.edu/exhibitions/american-monument
American Monument has been made possible by the generous support of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, a founding and continuing grantor to the artwork; the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the University of California Humanities Research Institute; and the Beall Family Foundation.
Special thanks to project partner Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana.