AMERICAN MONUMENT to be “un-paused” at The Beall Center for Art + Technology

Photo by Jason Meintjes, courtesy of lauren woods and the UAM, The University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach.)

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American Monument to be “un-paused” at The Beall Center for Art + Technology

Monument public viewing and co-production to launch October 5, 2019
“Unveiling” and Related Public Events in February 2020

Irvine, Calif., June 13, 2019 – The Beall Center for Art + Technology at University of California Irvine (UCI) presents American Monument, an artwork by lauren woods that prompts consideration of the cultural circumstances under which African-Americans lose their lives to police brutality. Initially inaugurated at the University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach in September of 2018, the monument’s production was paused there by the artist as an act of protest. Beall Center Artistic Director David Familian was present at the enactment of the pause and was moved by the work. “I am immensely proud that the Beall will now host this significant work of art,” says Familian.

American Monument is a participatory inter-media monument 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 installation will be the first full iteration of the project. The artwork provides a vehicle for analyzing the complex relationship between constructed 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 body and dash cam videos revealed a consistent and disturbing problem: police use of white dominant cultural constructions and stereotypes of “Blackness,” mined from pop culture, 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. The sound is heard inside the interior space where the grid is located and simultaneously displaced outside the physical architecture of the monument, into locations unknown to the viewer.

Supporting the main sculpture are reflection spaces to ponder law as a culture. The main reflection space, Archive II, displays documents associated with each case represented in Archive I. 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. Thought production from these activities will generate expanded forms of critical engagement, which feed back into the monument. At the end of this collaborative production process in January 2020, the monument will be “unveiled” with a public symposium to signal the completion of this iteration.

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, including Law, African-American Studies, Social Ecology, Art, and Art History. The exhibition will be on view from October 5, 2019 through February 9, 2020 at the Beall Center for Art + Technology.

American Monument has been made possible by the generous support of the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts, a founding grantor to the artwork.

Special thanks to project partner Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana.

About The Beall Center for Art + Technology: The Beall Center is an exhibition and research center located on the campus of the University of California, Irvine. Since its opening in 2000, the Beall Center’s exhibitions, research, and public programs have promoted new forms of creation and expression. For artists, the Beall Center serves as a proving ground — a place between the artist’s studio and the art museum — and allows them to work with new technologies in their early stages of development. For visitors, the Beall Center serves as a window to the most imaginative and creative innovations in the visual arts occurring anywhere. The Beall Center promotes 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. The Beall Center’s curatorial focus presents a diverse range of innovative, world-renowned artists, both national and international, who work with experimental and interactive media. Many of these artists have shown their works primarily within group exhibitions or have a limited number of solo exhibitions in the US. The Beall Center is committed to exhibiting these artists in a way that more fully expresses their individual body of work. We strive to present a direct connection between our programs and the larger trajectory of the history of video, installation art, kinetic and cybernetic sculpture. Our approach is not to exclusively emphasize the technological aspects of works, but to present experimental media projects that are equally strong aesthetically, conceptually and technically. The Beall Center received its initial support from the Rockwell Corporation in honor of retired chairman Don Beall and his wife, Joan; the core idea being to merge their lifelong passions - business, engineering and the arts - in one place. Today, major support is generously provided by the Beall Family Foundation.

About UCI Claire Trevor School of the Arts: As UCI’s creative laboratory, the Claire Trevor School of the Arts explores and presents the arts as the essence of human experience and expression, through art forms ranging from the most traditional to the radically new. The international faculty works across a wide variety of disciplines, partnering with others across the campus.  National-ranked programs in art, dance, drama, and music begin with training but end in original invention. Students come to UCI to learn to be citizen-artists, to sharpen their skills and talents, and to become the molders and leaders of world culture. For more information, visit www.arts.uci.edu.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 36,000 students and offers 222 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit www.uci.edu.

Media access: Radio programs/stations may, for a fee, use an on-campus ISDN line to interview UCI faculty and experts, subject to availability and university approval. For more UCI news, visit news.uci.edu. Additional resources for journalists may be found at communications.uci.edu/for-journalists.

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Posted Date: 
June 13, 2019
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Contact Information: 

David Familian, Beall Center Artistic Director
dfamilia@uci.edu   

Kimberli Meyer, American Monument co-leader
theamericanmonument@gmail.com

Jaime DeJong, Claire Trevor School of the Arts
949-824-2189
jdejong@uci.edu