lauren woods: Monument

University Art Museum, CSULB , Long Beach, CA, United States
17 Sep 2018 - 09 Dec 2018

lauren woods: Monument

The University Art Museum (UAM) at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) presents a major artwork by artist lauren woods, to be unveiled on Sunday, September 16, 2018. With Monument, the artist transforms the museum into a monument that examines the cultural conditions under which African-Americans have lost their lives to police violence. Conceived to be a traveling, continually expanding artwork, the UAM installation serves as its inaugural venue. The work offers opportunities for valuable conversations and analyzes the complex relationship between the social construction of race, bias-based police violence, and systemic power.

As case evidence has gained more exposure, public engagement with formal investigations of policing methods has reached new heights. The artist uses Freedom of Information Act requests to identify cultural narratives in legal documents. Woods clarifies her intent with Monument by saying:

“The law'” is a product of culture, and it produces culture. It does not live outside of the realm of culture because it is culture itself. And so, I offer this developing project, this monument, to serve as another tool for people to use to more deeply contemplate and engage language and the production of culture as it pertains to law enforcement, structural violence and oppression.

The artist’s breakdown serves as a launching point for visitor analysis and public discourse on the prejudicial symbols embedded in law and order.

The heart of Monument is an interactive sound installation made up of a grid of black and white turntables with pressed acetate records. Black turntables offer recordings of dialogue captured by civilian witnesses, and white turntables feature recordings derived from case testimonies and other legal documents. Visitors are invited to place a needle on the record and activate the sound sculpture.

Accompanying the monument are legal documents associated with the cases represented in the recordings. Included are testimonial dialogue, 911 call transcripts, and tracings of the use of historical precedent in modern case law. With case information fully contextualized and on view for comparative analysis, woods asserts that “law is culture,” or phrased in a different way, cultural narratives operate as law.

Monument is organized by UAM Director Kimberli Meyer.


About artist lauren woods
lauren woods is a conceptual artist based in Dallas, TX whose hybrid media projects—film, video and sound installations, public interventions, and site-specific work—engage history as a lens by which to view the socio-politics of the present. Challenging the tradition of documentary/ethnography as objective, she creates ethno-fictive documents that investigate invisible dynamics in society, remixing memory and imagining other possibilities. She also explores how traditional monument-making can be translated into new contemporary models of commemoration with new media.

About the UAM
The University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach creates exhibitions and education programs that provide space for critical interpretation of contemporary and modern art and culture. It is the only Long Beach museum that is free to the public, and one of two American Alliance of Museums (AAM) accredited museums in the California State University system.




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