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New Monuments for New Cities

March 2019 – July 2019
12th St & Red River St.

New Monuments for New Cities was the inaugural project of the High Line Network Joint Art Initiative, a new collaboration between infrastructure reuse projects in North America. This public art exhibition traveled across the United States and Canada throughout 2019. For the exhibition, five urban reuse projects that are part of the High Line Network invited five of their local artists or artist groups to create proposals (in the form of posters) for new monuments. Each participating location produced an exhibition of 25 artworks specific to their site.

The 25 artists in the exhibition were each invited to respond to the following prompt:

“Imagine a monument for today, for your city, for your country, for your community. As monuments to a deeply embedded, singular, and imbalanced history of the Western world are torn down every day, what will go up in their stead on these empty pedestals and plinths, or in the open sky above public squares and urban plazas? What rises from the rituals of their removal? Who is figured on these shrines, who has chosen and installed them, and who walks and drives by them every day?

As conversations expand beyond artistic and civic spheres to classrooms and living rooms about what it means to monumentalize a person, an idea, or a moment in time, who, or what, would you like to see on these empty pedestals? Would you leave the pedestals at all? What should these sites of honor look like? Do they require the bronze statues of public plazas, or can a monument take a more ephemeral or unconventional form? What does it mean to fix and enshrine a moment in time? Even more, than creating reminders of the past, monuments create portraits of the present, reflecting back to us our values and the structures of power that give shape and solidity to those values.”

The artists in the exhibition designed monuments, both possible and impossible to build, that question the format itself and envision its future. They span from proposals for traditional monuments to revised historical statues to newly imagined methods of public commemoration. They take the form of drawings, photographs, renderings, “missing” posters, Wikipedia pages, bold text-based statements, collages, and more. These 25 artworks address questions around permanence, representation, public space and land ownership, and the writing and re-writing of history.

Participating Artists

  • Regina Agu, Expanding Monuments
  • Nicole Awai, Reclaimed Water—CC’d
  • Judith Bernstein, Horizontal
  • Susan Blight, Untitled (Land and Life)
  • Jamal Cyrus, It’s All in Me…
  • Eric J. García, Monument to Lucy Gonzalez Parsons
  • Guerilla Girls, Code of Ethics for Art Museums
  • Coco Guzman, Missing Democracy
  • Hans Haacke, We (all) are the people
  • Tonika Johnson, Englewood Skateboarder
  • Paul Ramírez Jonas, Public Noise
  • An Te Liu, Memoria
  • Life of a Craphead (Amy Lam and Jon McCurley), Angry Edit of Wikipedia Page
  • Daniela Cavazos Madrigal, Te Quiero Muncho
  • Teruko Nimura and Rachel Alex Crist, Spaces
  • Chris Pappan, Land Acknowledgment Memorial
  • Denise Prince, Monument to Hypermodern Beauty, Bette from Captivating Not Captive
  • Phillip Pyle, II, Broken Obelisk Elbows
  • Richard Santiago (TIAGO), The Divide
  • Sin Huellas Artists: Delilah Montoya, Jimmy Castillo, [A]part
  • Xaviera Simmons, The Importance Of Slavery In The Construction Of
  • Zissou Tasseff-Elenkoff, Power to the People
  • Nick Vaughan and Jake Margolin, Mary’s Naturally, 1976
  • Quentin VerCetty, Library of Unlearning

Participating Cities

  • Buffalo Bayou, Houston, Texas; February – April 2019
  • Waller Creek, Austin, Texas; March-May, 2019 | Extended through July
  • The 606, Chicago, Illinois; May – July 2019
  • The Bentway, Toronto, Ontario; May-August, 2019
  • The High Line, New York, New York; September – October 2019

Local support for this exhibition comes from Michael Chesser, BBVA Compass, Cultural Arts Division of the City of Austin Economic Development Department, and the Susan Vaughan Foundation.