The Battle Is Joined

artist Karyn Olivier

The Battle is Joined by Karyn Olivier. Photo by Mike Reali.

  • location Vernon Park
  • Neighborhood

    Germantown / Chestnut Hill

  • completion date

    November 16, 2017


“I think a monument is a living, breathing entity that commemorates, acknowledges, reconsiders, reimagines, and investigates the past, and its implications for the future and the now,” says artist Karyn Olivier. For Monument Lab, she created The Battle Is Joined, a monument that revealed through the act of concealing, using mirrored surfaces that asked visitors to interact with multiplicity, simultaneity, and a lack of resolution.

Vernon Park is the site of two monuments, the Battle of Germantown Memorial and Pastorius Monument, commemorating, respectively, the liberation of the American colonies from British rule and the attempted liberation of slaves led by Germantown founder Francis Daniel Pastorius. The Pastorius Monument has been boxed in several times because of concern over whether the imagery was truly American, and Olivier referenced this history with The Battle Is Joined, boxing in the Battle of Germantown Memorial with a mirrored structure that echoed the sculpture underneath. Instead of fading into the background, as the sites we pass every day often do, this temporary monument reflected the ever-shifting neighborhood—allowing people to see themselves and their humanity in its surface, making the marble beneath more alive and physical than ever, a constant reconsideration, an answer to the question of what a “true” America looks like.


Lead Monument Lab partners include the City of Philadelphia; Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy; Historic Philadelphia; Independence National Historic Park; Penn Institute for Urban Research; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Price Lab for Digital Humanities; and the University of Pennsylvania.

Major support for Monument Lab projects staged in Philadelphia’s five squares has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

An expanded artist roster and projects at five neighborhood sites have been made possible by a significant grant from the William Penn Foundation.

Lead corporate sponsor is Bank of America.

Additional support has been provided by Susanna Lachs & Dean Adler, William & Debbie Becker, CLAWS Foundation, Comcast NBCUniversal, Davis Charitable Foundation, Hummingbird Foundation, J2 Design, National Endowment for the Arts, Nick & Dee Adams Charitable Fund, Parkway Corporation, PECO, Relief Communications LLC, Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square, Stacey Spector & Ira Brind, Tiffany Tavarez, Tuttleman Family Foundation, Joe & Renee Zuritsky, and 432 Kickstarter backers. Support for Monument Lab‘s final publication provided by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Media partner: WHYY