Down with Monuments? On the Making and Unmaking of Public Memory

Down with Monuments? On the Making and Unmaking of Public Memory

MacLean Ballroom, 112 S. Michigan Ave.

Event Recording

Relevant historical objects or relic of the past?

Recent confrontations over memorials have highlighted the true nature of monuments as acts of power. Proposals to take down, modify, or replace these statues confirm that monuments are as much about the present as they are about the past. But, what is the best way to address these historical objects?

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and the University of Chicago invite you to a roundtable discussion to investigate how public life is tangled up with the histories of public art. The panelists will take a historical and global perspective on the topic, presenting multiple examples for how people have responded to the tension between a changing politic and an inanimate symbol.

Roundtable Participants

Lucia Allais, Assistant Professor in the History and Theory of Architecture at Princeton University. Allais’ work is situated at the intersection of architecture, preservation, politics and technology in the modern period, with a special focus on international institutions and global practices.

Romi Crawford, Associate Professor in the Visual and Critical Studies and Liberal Arts Departments at SAIC. Crawford is co-author of The Wall of Respect: Public Art and Black Liberation in 1960s Chicago (Northwestern University Press, 2017).

Patrick R. Crowley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Crowley specializes in the art and archaeology of the Roman world.

Christine Mehring, Chair and Professor in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago. Mehring works on abstraction; postwar European art, especially the impact of World War II and the transformation from an international art world to a global one; and the crossovers between art and design, including public art.

W. J. T. Mitchell, Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History at the University of Chicago. Mitchell works on the history and theories of media, visual art, and literature, from the 18th century to the present.

Kirk Savage, Professor in the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh. Savage has been writing about public monuments and collective memory for more than 30 years. He is the author of Standing SoldiersKneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America, and more recently the editor of The Civil War in Art and Memory.

Mechtild Widrich, Assistant Professor in the Art History, Theory and Criticism department at SAIC. Widrich’s publications on monuments, commemoration, and public space discuss the monument boom of the 1990s, the role of economics (monument tourism), of the environment (the role of nature as memorial, and its precarious status in urban and rural civilization), activism, and of representation.