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Lecture by lauren woods and Kimberli Meyer: American Monument

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American Monument prompts consideration of and response to the cultural conditions under which African-Americans lose their lives to police brutality. The inter-media monument is an artwork and a process of research, think-tanking, and presentation. Conceived as nomadic and continually expanding, it moves across the country year-to-year, “unveiled” at universities, museums, storefronts, community centers, and churches.  It offers a vehicle by which to analyze the complex relationship between constructed race, material violence, structural power, and monumentality itself.

In recent years, evidence of police violence has reached a new level of exposure, allowing increased public access to formal investigations of police brutality. In 2014, woods began to examine police records and court transcriptions in cases where a police officer killed an unarmed black civilian. She focused on officers’ claims citing “fear for their own lives,” ultimately used to justify the killings as lawful. This work grew into American Monument, an interactive networked sound sculpture, research project, and mode of public engagement and education.

In developing the monument, woods, with the help of collaborator Kimberli Meyer, conducted an extensive Freedom of Information Act request process, and as the legal documents came in, woods identified a staggering number and variety of claims that hinged on fictions of Blackness. Close readings of use-of-force reports, prosecutor reports, witness testimonies, 911 calls, and body and dash cam videos, revealed a consistent and alarming problem: dominant cultural narratives that appear in mass media filter into law enforcement and the justice system, resulting in fatal violence on the ground.

The centerpiece of American Monument, Archive I, 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 record requests, setting the apparatus and sound in motion. Each turntable represents one police murder. The sound is heard inside the interior space where the grid is located and simultaneously displaced outside the physical architecture of the monument, into locations unknown to the viewer.

Supporting the main sculpture are reflection spaces to ponder law as culture, to see how it is created, interpreted, enacted, and perpetuated. Archive II is a display of documents associated with each case represented in Archive I, and include woods’s “liner notes” for a close read of each case. With each new mounting, local think tanks and symposia invite scholars, lawyers, community activists, civil rights leaders, students, artists, and the general public to process and discuss the issues addressed by the project. Subjects such as historical precedent, and the weaponization of language in investigations and narrative constructions are broached. The thought production from these think tanks help to build out the additional informational spaces.  At the end of this public production process to collaboratively build this component of the work, the monument is “unveiled” to signal the completion of the iteration.

lauren woods is a conceptual artist whose interdisciplinary projects – film, video and sound installations, socially-engaged public interventions, and site-specific work – engage history and sociopolitical systems to critique structures of power. Her primary research traces racial histories in the built environment through monument/memorial work. Driving woods’ critical and creative inquiry, is the question of how best to translate the practice of traditional monument-making into new contemporary objects of public memory that serve the movement for racial and historical justice.

Born in Kansas City, MO and raised in Dallas, TX, woods holds a BA in Radio, Television and Film and a BA in Spanish with a sociology minor from the University of North Texas. In 2006, she received her Masters of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute. Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States and internationally, including Washington D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Miami as well as Puerto Rico, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, Mali and France. She has been the recipient of grants and awards from institutions such as Creative Capital, The Tribeca Film Foundation, Art Matters, College Art Association, Alliance of Artists Communities and the Nasher Sculpture Center. She currently works between Boston, Los Angeles, and Dallas.

laurenwoodsartist.com

Kimberli Meyer is a curator, writer, architectural designer, and cultural producer. She recently led the University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach, and previously was the director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles, for nearly fourteen years. Major projects there include initiating and co-curating, with Gloria Sutton, Lisa Henry, and Nizan Shaked, How Many Billboards? Art In Stead, an exhibition in which 21 artists were commissioned to make new work for a Los Angeles billboard (2010); co-curating and co-authoring, with Susan Morgan, the exhibition and publication Sympathetic Seeing: Esther McCoy and the Heart of American Modernist Design (2011); and organizing myriad projects with contemporary artists and architects. She was the Commissioner for U. S. Presentation at the 11th International Cairo Biennial, and the recipient of numerous grants and awards. She has been working with woods on American Monument since its conception.

The lecture is part of the lecture series ›Studio, Art and Research‹ and takes place via Zoom. If you are interested, please contact mareen.mueller@uni-koeln.de, you will receive a Zoom link and password for participation.

 

 

Details

Datum:
10. Dezember 2020
Zeit:
18:00 - 19:30
Format:

Veranstalter

Institut für Kunst & Kunsttheorie
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