UCI Beall Center for Art + Technology | AMERICAN MONUMENT

October 05, 2019 - April 04, 2020

American Monument is an artwork by lauren woods that examines the cultural conditions under which African Americans lose their lives to police brutality.  

A participatory inter-media monument, the work is conceived as nomadic and continually expanding, moving across the country year-to-year, “unveiled” at universities, museums, storefronts, community centers, and churches. The Beall Center is hosting its first full iteration.  The artwork provides a vehicle for analyzing the complex relationship between the construction of race, material violence, structural power, and monumentality itself.

In 2018, American Monument initiated an extensive Freedom of Information Act request process. 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, 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. 

Supporting the main sculpture is Archive II, displaying documents associated with each case. Together, the archives offer space 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.

American Monument  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.