The National Mall is hosting its first-ever official outdoor show, Beyond Granite: Pulling Together, which consists of new, different monuments meant to commemorate underrepresented American stories.
About the exhibition: The temporary exhibition involves six artists from diverse backgrounds creating monuments that are markedly distinct from the usual imposing monoliths and bronze statues.
* The show was organised by the Philadelphia-based group, Monument Lab.
* The varied artworks include a functional playground designed by Derrick Adams which is divided by a large archival photograph from 1954 showing desegregated park play. Visitors can engage with the monument as originally intended.
* Another, by Paul Ramírez Jonas, engages visitors by pausing the tune of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” before the end, requiring active participation to finish the song.
New perspectives: The monuments created in Beyond Granite provoke questions about what constitutes a national tragedy and how that’s represented.
* An artwork called Homegoing by Ashon T. Crawley, made of bright blue platforms that form a maze, mourns queer musicians who led Black church choirs and died from AIDS-related complications. It attempts to serve as a reminder of this unrecognized national tragedy.
* Another installation, For The Living, by artist Tiffany Chung, takes the form of a sprawling map of the flight paths of refugees in thick black landscaping rubber — a nod to her own experiences as a refugee.
Impact and sustainability: The exhibit, which aims to heal legacies of harm, questions the permanence of monuments and the narratives they represent.
* According to Paul Farber, the director of Monument Lab, the exhibition addresses balancing trauma and triumph and encourages a living history to come to life.
* Unfortunately, given various regulations, the monuments in Beyond Granite will not remain beyond mid-September.
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