Dell Upton follows up on the theme of his current book, What Can and Can’t Be Said: Race, Uplift, and Monument Building in the Contemporary South (Yale University Press) by asking a team of individuals critically engaged with public art, memory, and the nation about the recent debates around Confederate monuments and efforts to recognize histories of lynching.
A monument leads an unhappy life. The best it can hope for is to molder quietly under a mantle of pigeon droppings, for when the people or events it celebrates attract a critical eye, its travails begin. Because a monument holds up its subject to memory, even adulation, it is likely to suffer for the failings of the animate.
At the heart of “American democracy” and “American freedom,” there is a shameful rot, which public monuments “labor” to paper over in order to present our struggles and conflicts as resolved and settled.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 2016; 208 pp.; 20 color illus.; 32 b/w illustrations; ISBN: 9780520288928; Hardcover: $49.95
Reviewed by: Vivien Green Fryd, Professor, Department of History of Art, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.
UC-Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
Curated by Darcy Grimaldo Grigsby, Stephanie Cannizzo, and Ryan Serpa.
Reviewed by Jackie Clay.
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