Monuments Dissected

Monuments Dissected: Engaging Public Art and Contested Spaces is an installation and musical performance presented in The Cube, Moss Art Center at Virginia Tech, April 21-23, 2022. The work centers around a growing collection of audio interviews about the past, present, and future of confederate and colonial monuments in the US. The project was created by Meredith Drum, Annie Stevens, Tanner Upthegrove, John Irrera, Rachel Rugh and graduate assistance from Bryce Burrell.

With an ICAT grant the team was able to commission music from two internationally celebrated artists Grisha Coleman and Marcus Norris.

To hear the musical compositions and listen to some of the interviews, please click here.

Interviewees whose voices you will hear as part of Grisha Coleman’s sound work: Artist Charlie Newton, Professor Biko Agozino, Artist and Community Activist Josiah Golson, and Dr. Kerri Mosely-Hobbs.

Musicians Performing Marcus’ Norris’s The Land Makers Her Own Artists:John Irerra (violin), Annie Stevens (vibraphone) with their students: Noah Blanco-Alcala (violin), Thomas Cummins (viola), Samuel Abernathy, (cello), and the percussion ensemble includes Mina Black, Peyton Gentry, Matthew Homoroc, Miranda Hughes, and Ivan Rivera Jimenez.

Dancers performing Saturday night: Rachel Rugh, Julia Basso, Catalina Hernandez-Cabal, and Audrey Reeves.

Meredith Drum, a faculty member at Virginia Tech, is the instigator and producer; she is a white woman. Since the project interrogates the history of race in the U.S., Drum will include information about how each participant self-identifies in terms of race and/or ethnicity. She recognizes that these categories are not neutral and are rather fraught with problems but she still thinks it is useful to bring the participants’ identities to the forefront.

The music for Monument Dissected, in the form of two scores, was commissioned specifically for the project and created by two award-winning Black composers. One score was composed, performed, and produced by Grisha Coleman, an artist based in New York City and Phoenix, AZ. The second score was written by Marcus Norris, an artist based in Los Angeles and Chicago. Norris’s score will be performed live by percussionist Annie Stevens and violinist John Irrera, who are both white musicians on the faculty of Virginia Tech; their students will perform alongside. Rachel Rugh, a white choreographer who is also faculty, will offer choreographed movement on Saturday evening with guest dancers. Tanner Upthegrove, a white audio engineer who works for ICAT, produced the spacial sound design.

In addition to the music, the installation also includes projections on four screens, a video sculpture, a drawing table where visitors are invited to imagine potential public art to fill the vacant spaces where the monuments are removed, and a listening station where visitors can listen to longer sections of the interviews.

Drum has been conducting these interviews for two years in collaboration with her graduate assistant Bryce Burrell, who is a young Native American and Black artist. They have spoken with a range of community leaders, activists, educators, scholars, students, and other artists who live across the US. The interviewees have self-identified as Black, white, Asian, Korean-American, Cambodian-American, Italian-American, and mixed-race. The sound of their voice as they tell their story is central to the project. Their narratives are rooted in their experience of the monuments in relation to racism as well as in their research and reflection on the role the monuments play within local, national, and international systems of oppression and injustice. Some of the interviewees have offered personal stories about their feelings of exclusion when they see images related to the confederacy. Others have analyzed the symbolic violence of the monuments in relation to ongoing racist systems. And others describe potential liberatory sculptural works to fill the vacated public spaces in their cities.

Monuments Dissected has been made possible, in part, by grants from the Virginia Tech Institute of Creativity, Arts and Technology and the Center for Human Computer Interaction.

Installation Hours in The Cube, Moss Art Center, Virginia Tech
4/21 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm
4/22 10:00 am – 6:30 pm
4/23 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
4/23 3:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Performances in The Cube of Marcus Norris’s The Land Makes Her Own Artists:
4/22 Friday 7:30 pm
4/23 Saturday 2:00 pm
4/23 Saturday 6:30 pm with movement by Rachel Rugh and special guests

Please download the program for the performances here.

Documentation of the Installation

3D Rendering of the installation.

3D Renderings of the installation during the performance.