Protocinema Founder Mari Spirito Talks Lean Structures, Coded Messages, and Cross-Cultural Collaboration

Ask Mari Spirito, the Istanbul-based director and curator of art nonprofit Protocinema, about censorship in Turkey, and you’ll get the retort of a person who’s gained the bigger-picture perspective afforded by living between different cultures. “But that’s happening in the United States, too! And it’s fascinating to me that Americans don’t realize that they’re also responding to what they can and can’t say,” she told Midnight Publishing Group News in a video call from the Turkish metropolis on the Bosporus. “Of course, working in Turkey, you have to be aware of what lines you can and cannot cross, but the lines move a lot as well, so you’re always working around that.”

Circumventing taboos and signaling to its audience in code are part of what make Protocinema’s programming so compelling. Founded by Spirito a decade ago, Protocinema stages what it describes as “site-aware” shows, with a strong focus on video installations, never using the same venue twice. “There’s a perfect storm that needs to happen when I choose spaces,” she explains. “It has to make sense for the artist’s work, I need to be able to afford it—which means it’s cheap or free—and it has to be with joy. I don’t want a space where I have to fight with the people or have any pushback.”

Spirito’s initial goal was to encourage artistic exchange between Istanbul and New York, but over the years, the program has expanded to occasionally curate programs in additional locations around the world via partnerships with other organizations. This September, Protocinema is marking its ten-year anniversary with a group show in Istanbul titled “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable,” with video installations and sculptures by Banu Cennetoğlu, Paul Pfeiffer, and Abbas Akhavan, to name a few, that examine processes of perception and realization. If this theme resonates in year two of a paradigm-shifting pandemic, it also encompasses a personal reckoning for Spirito: “I realized recently that what I’m doing with Protocinema has to do with unpacking and healing my own issues and the things that I’m concerned about,” she says, and goes on to describe a complex formative experience.

When she was in her early twenties, her younger sister joined Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church. “It was a destructive mind-control cult in the most textbook way,” Spirito says. “I dropped out of art school and did everything I could to get her back.” It took seven years, and “at the time, I thought that I was an adult taking care of things,” she says. It’s only recently that she realized she also got swallowed: “It happened to me, too! What I’m doing here has to do with working out my own issues with a totalitarian context.”

Ceal Floyer, Viewer (2011–2021), to be featured in Protocinema’s forthcoming exhibition “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable.” Courtesy the artist and Galleria Massimo Minini.

An Intuitive Response to Change

Against this backdrop, Spirito’s semi-expatriate path from the art world’s center to one of its peripheries seems less random. She was nearly two decades into a career as a gallerist, ensconced in New York as a director of 303 Gallery, when Istanbul hosted the World Water Congress in 2008. Inspired to take action about the global water crisis, she took some time off from her high-profile job to engage in community organizing in Turkey around the alarming privatization of water. In the process, she got into conversations with the local art community. She recounts feeling inspired by the spirit of innovation in the Turkish art scene at the time, and artists’ and curators’ ability to work with what she describes as “lean materials but with very rich and dense content.”

Meanwhile, back in New York, the bubble was about to burst. “It was a big and shiny art world; prices were getting higher and higher, art fairs were getting more predominant,” she says. Engaging with the art community in Turkey, on the other hand, had a different sense of purpose: “People making art here weren’t doing it because they wanted to be represented by a gallery and sell art; they were doing it because they had something to say which was urgent and important to them. It felt richer here.” Later that fall, the market crashed.

Founding a nonprofit felt like an organic response. From the get-go, it was clear that having fixed overhead costs wouldn’t make sense for what Spirito envisioned. “The best way to raise money is not to spend any,” she quips. Instead, Protocinema seeks out empty storefronts, disused warehouses, or other sites to stage its shows, with an emphasis on public access. “I love galleries and museums and Kusthallen and ICAs,” she says. “It wasn’t about negating anything, it was adding on.” Her guiding principle for Protocinema became, “Can I bring something more to the conversation?”

Adrian Paci, Interregnum (2017, installation view). Courtesy of kaufmann repetto, Milan and New York and Protocinema, Istanbul and New York.

The answer is a resounding yes. Take, for example, the exhibition by Albanian artist Adrian Paci, “Interregnum,” which Protocinema showed in Istanbul in 2017, one year after an unsuccessful coup to unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. (The coup usually comes with the epithets “attempted” or “faux,” depending on who you ask.) Paci’s video installation of the same name is collaged from found footage from around the world of massive, state-organized grieving ceremonies for unnamed rulers. It’s a quietly subversive investigation of fear, absence, mourning, the theatrics of power, and cults of personality. The work was projected inside a cavernous former matzo bakery near Galata Tower. “I was able to show it in a beautiful space and announce it publicly,” she recalls, “but I think that if one of the institutions here showed it, it would have been read in a different way and might have been more risky. Being small sometimes protects us.”

The exhibition coincided with the Istanbul Biennial curated by artists Elmgreen & Dragset, which some journalists criticized as lacking in political statements. (In my review for Midnight Publishing Group News, I disagreed with that criticism). “The fact that the biennial was so highly coded just shows you how tight the silencing is,” Spirito adds.

Listening to Artists

For five years up until 2018, Spirito also led Art Basel’s Conversations program in Basel and Miami Beach. As in her sharp and sensitive programming for the art fairs, her curatorial approach with Protocinema is guided by a deep generosity and interest in listening and learning: “It always starts with the artists. Being ahead of the curve on conversations comes from the artists.” On the eve of the 2016 U.S. elections, for example, Protocinema mounted an exhibition in Paris by Turkish artist Lara Ögel, which looked at patriarchal structures and the urge to flee them. Earlier that same year, Protocinema opened a show by Allora & Calzadilla in Istanbul, which ended up coinciding with the coup. The artists didn’t feel comfortable traveling to Turkey for the opening, but their video work The Great Silence (2014)—which deals with the limits of human perception and the loving message from a parrot to its dying owner—made an impact. “People were going into the show saying, ‘Thank God this artwork is here right now,’” Spirito recalls.

Lara Ögel, “Come back! All is Forgiven” (installation view), presented by Protocinema in Paris in 2016 and supported by SAHA, Istanbul.

Spirito ensures that Protocinema, which now boasts a fixed staff of three, plus three long-term freelancers, is constantly reinventing itself. In addition to two commissions a year, in New York and Istanbul, since 2016 Spirito has also run an Emerging Curator Series, in which Protocinema invites young practitioners to work on exhibitions with experienced curators as mentors. (A recent one, curated by Alper Turan, reacted to violence against the queer community in Turkey.) In 2017 Spirito launched a traveling tour of artists’ videos, sent as digital files to institutions around the world. This year’s program, curated by Asli Seven, is going to 12 cities, including venues in Tbilisi, Georgia; Nice and Bourge, France; and Prizen, Kosovo.

This flexible approach meant that Protocinema was uniquely prepared to stage shows during the pandemic. And so in 2020, a new model was introduced with “A Few in Many Places,” a group show in which each participating artist shows wherever they’re based, in a space that is not subject to lockdown restrictions: Philadelphia, Beirut, Berlin, Montreal, and Istanbul. A zine published in all locations connects the show’s disparate parts through texts. “I didn’t want to be part of the huge retreat online,” Spirito says. “I wanted to keep a foot in real life, because we need both.”

She adds with a chuckle, “I’ve been working remotely for years! Finally people got what I was doing. But that just means I need to move the bar further now.”

Once Upon a Time Inconceivable” is on view at the Yeni Kundura Building in Istanbul September 4–October 10, 2021.

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Why the Myth of the ‘Good Billionaire’ Is Undermining the Nonprofit and For-Profit Art Industry Alike (and Other Insights)

Every Wednesday morning, Midnight Publishing Group News brings you The Gray Market. The column decodes important stories from the previous week—and offers unparalleled insight into the inner workings of the art industry in the process.

This week, how the top of the ladder has taken the art world sideways…



On Sunday, journalist and author Anand Giridharadas delivered a scalding rebuke of the pinnacle of the U.S. donor class in the New York Times. While mega-philanthropy takes the brunt of the heat, his argument also carries implications for the for-profit side of a polarized art market. The full scope of his analysis clarifies once again how the economics that define the culture business proceed from policy choices made on a much larger canvas. 

At the center of Giridharadas’s sights is Berkshire Hathaway C.E.O. Warren Buffett, the apotheosis of what he calls the “Good Billionaire” myth. In Giridharadas’s telling, the myth holds that America’s largest problem today is only the abuse of its economic system by a few galactically wealthy bad actors, not the design of the system itself. When top earners just behave with a shred of dignity and fellow feeling for the rest of society, everyone prospers together. 

Buffett has long seemed the best evidence for these beliefs. He comes across as humble, uninterested in wealth, and even welcoming of common-sense reforms that would reduce the net worth of his billionaire peers. 

Giridharadas reminds us that then-President Barack Obama named a modest wealth-tax proposal in honor of Buffett, who has frequently railed against the unfairness of a system that allows him to pay a lower proportional tax burden than basically everyone who works for him. He is among the founding billionaires behind the Giving Pledge, the pact in which each signatory commits to donating at least half of their wealth to nonprofit causes before the hearse pulls up. He has lived his entire adult life in Omaha, Nebraska, for crying out loud. How much more down-to-earth could a billionaire get?

Buffett may be the prototype of the virtuous plutocrat, but he’s not alone. Bill Gates has transformed in the public imagination from ruthless software monopolist to benevolent vax daddy of low-income countries. Michael Bloomberg is regularly lionized (even in the past by me) for the millions he gives to cultural and climate nonprofits annually. The latter two characters may come off as less aw-shucks than Buffett, but their examples still seem to suggest mega-wealth delivers society a great good when the right people are involved.

Giridharadas, however, argues that this is all crap—a grand smokescreen perpetuated by the most powerful to keep everyone else ripe for exploitation. He writes:

There is no way to be a billionaire in America without taking advantage of a system predicated on cruelty, a system whose tax code and labor laws and regulatory apparatus prioritize your needs above most people’s. Even noted Good Billionaire Mr. Buffett has profited from Coca-Cola’s sugary drinks, Amazon’s union busting, Chevron’s oil drilling, Clayton Homes’s predatory loans and, as the country learned recently, the failure to tax billionaires on their wealth.

That last sentence refers to both some of Buffett’s investments and, more importantly, a scorching investigation published last week by ProPublica. Using leaked tax records, it didn’t just show that the very wealthiest Americans have been paying meager amounts of federal income tax—and sometimes, none at all—for years, or that the billionaires in question have done so over and over again by completely legal means. It also showed that some of the most cunning plutocrats have been the ones often portrayed as the most virtuous.

(If you’re curious about how they’re pulled it off, the answer is by taking meager annual salaries—Amazon, for instance, paid its C.E.O. Jeff Bezos less than $82,000 annuallywhile taking out a cascading series of low-interest loans against their stocks and other assets, which generate no taxable income until they’re sold. Here’s a good explainer.) 

Buffett’s folk hero persona did not stop him from leveraging this loophole for all it was worth. According to ProPublica, he paid a “true tax rate” of just .1 percent on the $24.3 billion he added to his net worth between 2014 and 2018. Bloomberg managed to pay only slightly more than Buffett during the same span: a 1.3 percent true tax rate on a gain of $22.5 billion. (In statements to ProPublica, both men emphasized that they paid the maximum amount of taxes owed.)

So what does this have to do with the art business? I’m glad you asked.

Activists of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) protest the Sacklers at the Louvre. Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.

Activists of P.A.I.N. (Prescription Addiction Intervention Now) protest the Sacklers at the Louvre. Photo by Stephane de Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images.


The term “artwashing” is normally only associated with cultural philanthropy doled out by plutocrats whose wealth can be traced to businesses or products that do direct harm to vulnerable populations. From mass-manufacturing opioids (see: the now-in-the-penalty-box Sackler family), to peddling tear gas (see: former Whitney Museum trustee Warren Kanders), to charging extortionate rates for phone time with incarcerated loved ones (see: former Los Angeles County Museum of Art trustee Tom Gores), it has not been hard in recent years to view plenty of high-dollar giving to arts organizations as outright plunder. 

Yet Giridharadas’s point is that “actually malevolent and disastrously negligent plutocrats” are not the only ones to blame for our wealth-stratified, winner-takes-all society. They just make it easier for the rest of the superrich to hide their ill effects on modern life. In fact, the Good Billionaires are actually the “most dangerous,” because they preserve the fantasy that the structure of the U.S. economy is sound and fair when in reality the foundation has been cracked and crumbling for decades. 

Mega-philanthropy, Giridharadas argues, has been the most effective camouflage for the damage. Set aside the gifts made by clean-conscience donors who would be unaffected by Senator Elizabeth Warren’s proposed “ultra-millionaire tax” on fortunes above $50 million. What makes donations from “supposed Good Billionaires” like Buffett and Bill Gates more insidious than donations made by “the crooks and the scoundrels and the people manifestly looking for quick P.R. highs” is that they give so much moreand are so much better at weaving a righteous narrative around those gargantuan gifts thanks to their spotless public images. 

This also means the Good Billionaires can keep pillaging the economy with little public scrutiny landing on either their own revenue streams or the system irrigating them. Giridharadas notes that in Buffett’s strenuous defense of his tax history, the Oracle of Omaha suggests his large-scale charitable giving does more for the commonwealth than robust payments to the federal government ever could. “I believe the money will be of more use to society if disbursed philanthropically than if it is used to slightly reduce an ever-increasing U.S. debt,” Buffett wrote.

Of course, his framing abstracts that the “ever-increasing U.S. debt” is a bill for actual stuff—some of which people need, and some of which they don’t. On one hand, it includes stimulus payments and enhanced unemployment benefits shown to have “substantially reduced hardship” during the Great Shutdown, as well as a minuscule amount of federal arts funding. On the other hand, it also includes regime after regime of tax cuts disproportionately benefiting a donor class that needed no extra help, as the ProPublica investigation reinforced. 

This is the ultimate irony of Buffett’s defense: if Uncle Sam was more committed to making the wealthiest plutocrats pay their fare share to support the systems that helped make them so rich, the debt wouldn’t be so big! But it isand part of the reason is that it has been spraying Good and Bad Billionaires alike with cash they didn’t need, some portion of which they went on to parcel out to nonprofits that were all the more grateful for the private largesse precisely because public funding has been reduced by the decline in tax revenues collected.

Eli Broad.Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images.

Eli Broad. Courtesy of Getty Images.


Giridharadas’s piece and the ProPublica report were both preceded by the themes in Carolina Miranda’s skeptical Los Angeles Times analysis of the supposed philanthropic void that would be created by this year’s death of mega-collector and arts patron Eli Broad. 

Aside from reinforcing to the East Coast media that L.A. has supported a thriving cultural scene for a century (and even out-donated New York in multiple recent studies), she implored the world to “retire the outmoded idea that the most important factor in a city’s cultural landscape is the presence of some white knight bearing a checkbook and grandiose ideas about turning bulldozed Los Angeles neighborhoods into the Champs-Élysées (as Broad once described his vision for Bunker Hill),” the slice of downtown where his namesake private museum now stands. 

Like Giridharadas’s argument about Buffett, Miranda’s argument zeroes in on Broad to make a larger point. Even within the Los Angeles nonprofit scene, Broad’s record had pockmarks. She reminds readers that LACMA accused him of leaving the museum “holding the bag on $5.5 million in additional construction costs” for the building on its campus otherwise erected with his money and named in his honor. (A Broad spokesperson denied the charge.) He also refused to endow the structure, sticking LACMA with all bills for its upkeep, and then ultimately kept his collection so he could open his own institution

The upshot? Mega-philanthropy isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, even when we restrict our view to the donors’ impact on their home cultural landscape. 

The push for greater public funding of the arts in the U.S. has been gathering steam since last March’s lockdowns. (President Biden is receptive.) Miranda emphasizes multiple examples of robust, broad-based tax initiatives long ago implemented at the state and county levels, from Michigan to Colorado to Los Angeles. In that sense, there’s an argument the nonprofit culture sector could be at least as strong, if not stronger, after the tax code’s billionaire loopholes were closed. 

I would also add that the for-profit art trade could benefit in a similar way from serious U.S. tax reform. Market participants have lamented for years that the middle-class collectors who once sustained a more equitable version of the industry have become an endangered species. Several factors contribute to the change, but many of the most significant are tied up in the larger economy—and all are impacted by the Good Billionaire myth. 

Students pull a mock "ball and chain" representing the $1.4 trilling outstanding student debt outside the second presidential debate 2016. Image courtesy Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

Students pull a mock “ball and chain” representing the $1.4 trilling outstanding student debt outside the second presidential debate 2016. Image courtesy Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images.

A recent piece in Bloomberg captured millennials’ generational struggle to build the type of wealth that many boomers took for granted. After adjusting for inflation, millennials paid about 50 percent more for college than boomers, and they face a median home price about 50 percent higher. Meanwhile, their wages have risen only 20 percent over the same span. (If you’re wondering who is driving up prices in the housing market, one big answer is private-equity firms, which have been fattening their portfolios with everything from single-family houses to trailer parks.) 

The costs of simply getting by, let alone getting far enough ahead to collect art, have mounted too. Many U.S. employers offer fewer benefits than in the past, especially as gig work has replaced more traditional full-time and part-time jobs. Companies that provide healthcare, child care, and paid family leave are increasingly rare (particularly in the gallery sector). Starved of so much tax revenue from top earners, government has little capacity to fill the void with social welfare programs (though Biden’s stimulus bill aims to begin reversing the trend).

The U.S. wouldn’t have to become a mythical socialist utopia to fix this situation. Prior to Ronald Reagan’s 1986 tax reforms, the nation’s top marginal tax rate was 50 percent. Just as importantly, only since 1978 has investment income (capital gains) been taxed at more favorable rates than typical wage income.

Subsequent reforms have torqued the system further and further to the advantage of the mega-wealthy, eventually reaching the present-day scenario in which tax law requires Buffett and other billionaires to pay no more than a nominal amount to the common good. And all of it has been at least partly enabled by the philanthropic narrative that the superrich will take care of the rest of us, including when it comes to art and cultural spending.

The folly of that thinking has become clearer and clearer ever since the Great Recession, and the Great Shutdown has exacerbated it. From museums to galleries, from Warren Buffett to Eli Broad, the Good Billionaire myth has brought too many systems to a breaking point. How exactly we should move toward equitable, sustainable solutions is up for debate, but whether we truly need to is not. 

[The New York Times]


That’s all for this week. ‘Til next time, remember: if you look around the room and can’t figure out who the sucker is, there’s a good chance the sucker is you.

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How Mega-Collector and Scholar Estrellita Brodsky Uses Her Nonprofit Gallery to Grow Visibility for Latin American Artists

Another Space, the Chelsea gallery where arts patron, scholar, and collector Estrellita Brodsky and her husband, Daniel, present works by an array of Latin American and Latinx artists, is open—like so many other places these days—by appointment.

Yet Brodsky—who has endowed curatorial positions at the Met, and whose husband is the encyclopedic museum’s board chair—is looking on the bright side. Despite more than a year of restrictions and lockdowns, some things have gone well.

“It has been an interesting period, and a nice sense of community within the art world [has developed], even though I wasn’t able to get out as much,” she told Midnight Publishing Group News by phone.

“It was nice to keep in touch with people and hear what they were doing, even if was on a Zoom call.”

Her ongoing connections allowed Brodsky to forge ahead with programming at Another Space, which shows works from her collection alongside a variety of loans to examine Latin American and Latinx art through an array of lenses, and always with an eye towards new narratives.

“I always try to have a bit of a correction of history, both in my collecting and my philanthropic work,” Brodsky said. “So many artists from Latin America or of Latin heritage in the United States have been overlooked, so that has continued to be of interest to me, and I’m also drawn to works that are socially and politically engaged.”

Stayin’ Alive,” the gallery’s current show about survival and resistance in the face of climate change, takes its title from the Bee Gees’ eponymous hit. Once it closes, the space’s next show will be “Absence/Presence: Latinx and Latin American Artists in Dialogue.” It is slated to open on June 9.

One of the luxuries of having the Chelsea space is the ability to “be more reactive to current events or deal with issues that I find particularly compelling,” Brodsky said. “It’s a good way not only to think about what I’m collecting, but also to see new artists.”

For instance, a recent discovery of hers through “Stayin’ Alive” has been Guatemalan artist Sandra Monterroso, whose work addresses indigenous practices and Guatemala’s long-standing political instability.

Other artists featured in the show include Laura Aguilar, Allora and Calzadilla, Lucas Arruda, Firelei Báez, Agnes Denes, Ana Mendieta, Adrián Villar Rojas, and Anicka Yi.

“I was interested not only in the idea of exploiting nature or natural resources, but also Latin American and American artists who have dealt with the environment as eco-activists,” Brodsky said. “Because of that show, I started collecting some artists who had not been on my radar.”

Brodsky says she’s often gravitated towards collecting women artists without necessarily being aware of it. A 2018 show of works from her collection was titled “The Second Sex” after the influential 1949 treatise by the French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir. Roughly 40 percent of the works in the exhibition were by female artists such as Carmen Herrera, Lygia Clark, Lygia Pape, Gego, Mira Schendel, Anna Maria Maiolino, and Adriana Varejão.

For “Absence/Presence,” Brodsky will turn her attention to issues even closer to home. The show, which is being organized with curator Cecilia Fajardo-Hill, who has published and curated extensively on contemporary Latin American and international artists, will highlight works by artists who explore the duality of their mixed heritage.

Laura Aguilar, a photographer whose work Brodsky recently acquired, is Mexican American, but her place in the world is complicated.

“She clearly identified as Chicanx, but she felt alienated,” said Brodsky, who also comes from mixed heritage.

“I was born in the United States, but both my parents were from Latin America—Venezuela and Uruguay—so I find labels are challenging.”

So how exactly does she interpret the term Latinx? “It’s become a real point of discussion and it’s complicated,” Brodsky said. Because Spanish is a gendered language, it’s intended as a more gender-fluid term.

But that doesn’t answer every question, Brodsky said. “How do you define some artists who never considered themselves either? I think it’s a term that’s evolving.”

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Why This Arts Nonprofit Is Studying Every Single Monument in the US

If you ask yourself “What is a monument?” what comes to mind?

As prominent a role as these statues and memorials play in the cultural discourse these days, they mean something very different depending on where and who you are. 

That’s a problem, says Paul Farber, director of Monument Lab, a Philadelphia-based public art studio and nonprofit dedicated to the study of the country’s historic memorials, markers, and statuary. To identify a new future for national monumentation, we must first understand its past, but, as of now, that’s a history no one has really written yet.

At least until now. Farber’s organization is currently in the process of completing an exhaustive audit of the monument landscape across the United States. It’s an ambitious, complicated effort made possible largely through a $4 million grant from the Mellon Foundation’s five-year, $250 million “Monuments Project,” an initiative that aims “to transform the way our country’s histories are told in public spaces.” (Monument Lab was the project’s inaugural grant recipient when it was announced last fall.)

Participants in the Monument Lab Public Thinktank – New York City, High Line, 2019. Photo: Liz Ligon.

Participants in the Monument Lab Public Thinktank – New York City, High Line, 2019. Photo: Liz Ligon.

“What our team has been doing is trying to gather as many datasets from federal, state, and local-level organizations. That’s not a plug-and-play operation,” Farber says, explaining that the gathering of comprehensive historical data is not as simple as plugging two cords together and transferring information. “It’s the equivalent of opening up a massive drawer of wires that have never been untangled or even looked at.”

Data, in this case, connotes a number of different statistics, and it tends to vary depending on who collected it. In some cases, it may mean a survey of the race, age, and gender of the subjects of memorial statues; in others, it could mean a record of when and how a piece of public art was installed, how often it was cleaned, or who paid for its upkeep.  

So rooted in symbolism, identity, and regionality are these objects that thinking of them through numbers can feel counterintuitive. But numbers bare behavior, Farber notes, and that tells us a lot. 

He characterizes these datasets as “insight into the processes of power that are responsible for upkeeping, sponsoring, and tracking monuments. How you track and maintain the things that you say you value,” he says, “will be tested and reflected in the systems of upkeep.”

A participant in the Monument Lab Research Workshop – Toronto, Reflecting Authority, High Line Joint Art Network, 2019. Photo: Andrew Williamson.

A participant in the Monument Lab Research Workshop – Toronto, Reflecting Authority, High Line Joint Art Network, 2019. Photo: Andrew Williamson.

Indeed, “power” is the operative word here, and it’s reflected in the organization’s current working definition of a monument: a “statement of power and presence in public.” 

Now ask yourself again: “What is a monument?” Is your mental image different?

The findings from Monument Lab’s audit will be made freely available this spring, and will arrive in the form of a print publication, a website, and a machine-readable dataset. 

Following the release, the organization will put some $1 million of its grant money toward the establishment of 10 field offices around the country. Where those offices will be located and what they’ll look like is still being determined, Farber says, but they’ll be representative of their local region. He calls them a “hybrid between a public campaign and a participatory exhibition.”  

“Rather than looking for the quick fix to make the monument question go away, we’re looking for the pathways to justice, repair, and care that can be sustained over a generation,” he sums up. “The field offices are an attempt to do this.”

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