Proposal for Confederate Monuments
Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
In response to the national debate on how to address the public display of statues and monuments that honor individuals associated with the country’s history of slavery, racism, and colonization, there have been three options: destruction, temporary placement in storage, and relocation to museum exhibitions where they may be displayed in “context.” Each of these options is inadequate– destruction could be equated with erasure, storage is temporary, and institutional museums are not publicly accessible in the same way that outdoor spaces are. Politically, there is resistance from the president to remove the “beautiful” statues, an act he equates with “changing history.”
As an architect, I propose the recontextualization of these monuments through the creation of a new architectural space. The statues remain public, but under a large cover that casts the figures in dark shadow. This simple gesture creates a more austere atmosphere for our consideration of these men and their legacies. Context isn’t a plaque in a museum– it’s an overbearing darkness that changes the way these figures are seen and remembered, literally.
© Philip Poon 2020