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lauren woods: American MONUMENT

September 17  December 9, 2018 
American MONUMENT is currently paused at the request of the artist, however, the UAM welcomes visitors to come and contemplate issues of police violence in the museum.

From September 16 through December 9, 2018, artist lauren woods planned to actively transform the University Art Museum (UAM) 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 was conceived to be nomadic and continually expanding, with the UAM chosen as its launch site and steward. The artwork provides a vehicle to analyze the complex relationship between constructed race, material violence and structural power.

In recent years, evidence of police violence has reached a new level of exposure, piquing broader public interest in formal investigations of police brutality. For American MONUMENT, woods examined cases in which a police officer killed a black civilian and focused on language which she asserts was used to justify the fatal incidents. She identified dominant cultural narratives that appear in mass media and filter into law enforcement and the justice system. The project provides space to ponder how the law is created, interpreted, enacted, and perpetuated. The sound installation and accompanying documents gallery are no longer on display, as a part of the requested paused state of the monument. These materials were sourced from open records requests that included police reports, court transcripts, and witness testimonies,as well as audio files captured by bystanders. Visitors were intended to pick up the needle on any turntable, put it on a record, and activate the sound sculpture.

Although American MONUMENT is paused, the artist has granted allowances for visitors to have self-guided experiences of the remaining visual materials. Three legal documents are mounted in the galleries: the medical examiner diagram from the Laquan MacDonald case; the suspect statement from George Zimmerman after the shooting of Trayvon Martin; defendant testimony from Darren Wilson during his grand jury trial, which ruled on the case of the death  of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Read on for more information on the project.

American MONUMENT was made possible in part by the generous support of 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. Special thanks to the Grand Central Art Center, Martin Brenner, Sara Daleiden, and Shelleen Greene, and Nizan Shaked. UAM staff members, interns, and Museum Studies students assisted with exhibition research. This project was organized by Kimberli Meyer, in collaboration with lauren woods.


Upcoming Exhibition

Call and Response, When We Say... You Say

January 28 – April 14, 2019 

Call and Response, When We Say… You Say is a multi-disciplinary exhibition focused on selective works from UAM’s permanent collection guest curated by Slanguage Studio founders Karla Diaz and Mario Ybarra, Jr. The exhibition will ask Slanguage artists and other community art organizations to respond to these pieces. The intent of this exhibition is to find intersections, value and resonance with the collection of artwork with new generations of audiences and the student population. The meaning of the exhibition title, Call and Response…, is inspired by this act in many cultures such as in tribal and indigenous, traditional religious, cultural rituals or in most contemporary practice in music genres such as Hip Hop. The act of call and response most importantly asks for an active participatory engagement of both the “caller” and “the responder” and it renders a democratic forum for discussion and civic engagement. It also creates an individualistic but also collective language of communication. The curatorial drive for the exhibition has been to select works that engages the six pedagogical points that Slanguage has developed in their organization: Intent, content, context, production, distribution and documentation and that is uses diverse use of genres.