Oct 27, 2017

Mayfly Monuments

by: Laura Kochman

When we think about the term “monument,” usually we’re describing something large, imposing—something solid. We don’t think about the ephemeral, the transitory. But Monument Lab is all about rethinking our definitions and our point of view, so who says a monument has to be timeless? In reality, all monuments made of stone will crumble one day. How does it change the way you think if a monument lasts for a single night?

With only three weeks left to go, we’re face-to-face with it: this is a temporary project. Everything that we’ve built needs to be taken apart. While it stings a bit to create something only to put an end to it nine weeks later, this ending adds another layer to the work that we’re doing. What if, like the world around them, monuments were places of flux? What if we could change public space to respond to changing ideas? What if we could ask more questions, and be more comfortable without answers?

Two weeks ago, Dreams, Diaspora, and Destiny lasted one evening in Malcolm X Park: a monument to the future that was limited by time. Seguimos Caminando (We Keep Walking) is made of tissue paper and projection, making us think about fragility and resilience. The Sweet Chariot app reminds you that history is not always evident, though it may live on forever, unseen. Monument to New Immigrants has literally been disintegrating so that it can be replaced, an allegory for waves of migration. In Penn Treaty Park, the name and words of In Perpetuity echo across time, reminding us that the permanency of the treaty that was promised has been revoked.

We spoke recently with Ricardo Rivera of Klip Collective, whose Monument Lab project hasn’t even happened yet. Passage :: Migration launches this Saturday, October 28—and then it’s done. This site-specific installation in Marconi Plaza will combine light, sound, fabric, and words to evoke ideas about immigration and community. “I want to see more monuments that are about ideas and concepts,” said Rivera, to “foster a conversation by breaking the rules.” As the child of two immigrants, Passage :: Migration is meaningful to Rivera in part because of his own experience growing up in the United States, and feeling a need to defend his right to be present. On Saturday, park visitors will be immersed inside the monument, a metaphor for immigration as an experience where you are welcomed into a whole. This country, like this monument, is a fluid and complicated place.

Get it before it’s gone—here’s where you can find Monument Lab all week long:

Design mockup for Klip Collective's Monument Lab installation at Marconi Plaza.

Passage :: Migration and Free Speech at Marconi Plaza

A night-time Saturday Spotlight for Marconi Plaza, featuring monuments in the form of a kiosk and a one-night-only light installation from Klip Collective—plus food, music, dancing, and poetry. Free.

Saturday, October 28
7–10 p.m.

Marconi Plaza
2800 South Broad Street

Free Speech by Shira Walinsky. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Monument Lab Live #3: Civic Action and Activism

TED-style talks from Bree Newsome, Tarek El-Messidi, representatives of Reentry Think Tank, and Monument Lab artists Michelle Angela Ortiz (with the Shut Down Berks Coalition) and Shira Walinsky (with Southeast by Southeast). $5 / Free for PAFA Members.

Wednesday, November 1
6–8 p.m.

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
118-128 North Broad Street

Sweet Chariot site at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Saturday Spotlight: Washington Square

Highlighting Philadelphia’s missing histories and underappreciated cultures with artists Marisa Williamson and Kaitlin Pomerantz. Free.

Saturday, November 4
1–4 p.m.

Washington Square
6th and Walnut Streets


If you’re making the scream emoji face thinking about how little time is left, keep an eye on our Events calendar for the remaining Monument Lab programming.


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

Last updated: Oct 27, 2017

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