American Monument

American Monument

University of California, Irvine

Photo: Jason Meintjes. Courtesy of lauren woods and UAM.

September 25, 2019
American Monument
October 5, 2019–February 8, 2020
Launch: October 5, 2–5pm
University of California, Irvine
Beall Center for Art + Technology
712 Arts Plaza
92697 Irvine CA
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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/dash cam 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 its 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.

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.

lauren woods is a conceptual artist whose interdisciplinary hybrid media projects—film, video and sound installations, socially-engaged public interventions, and site-specific work—engage history as a lens by which to view the socio-politics of the present. Her primary research traces racial histories in the built environment through monument/memorial work and informs her most current public projects. Driving woods’s 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 utilize new media.

Project co-leader
Kimberli Meyer is a curator, writer, architectural designer, and cultural producer. She has organized many exhibitions, publications, and programs and has served as the director of the University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach as well as the MAK Center for Art and Architecture, Los Angeles. She has been working with woods on American Monument since its conception.

The Beall Center is an exhibition and research center located on the campus of the University of California, Irvine. The Beall’s exhibitions, research, and public programs  promote new forms of creative expression by: exhibiting art that uses different forms of science and technology to engage the senses; building innovative scholarly relationships and community collaborations between artists, scientists and technologists; encouraging research and development of art forms that can affect the future; and reintroducing artistic and creative thinking into STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) integrated learning in K-12 to Higher Education.

Hours: Monday–Saturday noon–6pm

Free admission and docent tours

Student Center Parking Structure: 311 W. Peltason Drive, Irvine, CA 92697
Mesa Parking Structure: 4000 Mesa Road, Irvine, CA 92697
Maps, driving directions and parking information 

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University of California, Irvine
September 25, 2019

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