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Modern Monuments

by Art21May 16, 2023 1:24:10 total runtime

Shahzia Sikander’s most recent project, Havah…to breathe, air, life (2023), reimagines the monument as a marker of boundary-breaking, feminine spirit, and collective visibility. “I like to think of my practice as an anti-monument,” says Sikander, “because it engages the past without glorifying it.”

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s participatory anti-monumental approach in A Crack in the Hourglass (2021) gives communities the space to mourn, remember, and feel connected again to those lost to COVID-19. “I think that the monuments that are most interesting are the monuments that either disappear, question themselves, that complicate some of these stories that we tell ourselves,” says the artist.

In a recreated monument, KING COBRA (documented as Doreen Lynette Garner) forces audiences to face the profound racism underlying the life and work of Dr. J. Marion Sims, long considered the “father of modern gynecology,” who performed torturous procedures on enslaved Black women for the purposes of experimentation and research.

Monuments carry special significance for Krzysztof Wodiczko as sites for public gatherings and protests, witnesses and recorders of history, and blank canvases upon which new narratives can be painted.

In our latest playlist, artists reimagine the idea of the monument and reconsider how we acknowledge the past.