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The Future of Monumentality: Alternatives to Monumentality

Watch this two-part webinar series, produced in a partnership between Next City and The High Line Network, as we examine the unique intersection of art, design, and urbanism.

January 28, 2021

Join Next City for the second of two virtual conversations in our series, “The Future of Monumentality,” as we examine the past, present, and future of public monuments from the unique intersection of art, design, and urbanism. The speaker series, moderated by New York Times critic Salamishah Tillet, is co-presented in partnership with the High Line.

Over the past year, communities around the world have protested the institutional racism of police violence toward Black, Latinx, and Indigenous people—the same people who have experienced disproportionately devastating health effects and economic hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the most powerful symbols engaged by these protests has been the removal and defacing of monuments, as well as their use as focal points and backdrops for rallies, speeches, performances, and collections of protest signs. And as the disturbing insurrection in Washington, D.C., has shown, white supremacists continue to wield and deface monuments as violent expressions of power and threat.

The Future of Monumentality examined the civic, aesthetic, and historical contexts these influential objects inhabit.

For our second event in this series, “Alternatives to Monumentality,” moderator Salamishah Tillet talks with an artist, historian, public official, and placemaker to reimagine the form, function and role of monuments as we move into the future. Among the broad topics our panel will engage are: how displacing and recontextualizing monuments in post-Soviet Eastern Europe changed the meaning and understanding of these works; how the “Paper Monuments” project in New Orleans centered the Black experience and surfaced untold histories; how interactive performance art creates a space to honor Indigenous ancestral wisdom and storytelling traditions; and more.



Salamishah Tillet
Named by Gloria Steinem as one the best contemporary feminist writers, Salamishah Tillet is a contributing critic at large for The New York Times and the Henry Rutgers Professor of Creative Writing and African American and African Studies at Rutgers University - Newark. She is also the founder of New Arts Justice, an initiative for feminist approaches to socially engaged art at Express Newark and in 2003, with her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, she founded A Long Walk Home, an art organization that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women.

She is the author of In Search of the Color Purple: The Story of an American Masterpiece (Abrams, 2021), and Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Duke University Press, 2012). In 2020, she was awarded the Whiting Foundation Creative Nonfiction Grant for her book-in-progress, “All the Rage: Mississippi Goddam and the World Nina Simone Made.” 



Bryan Lee Jr.
Design Principal
Bryan Lee is the Design Principal of Colloqate and a national Design Justice Advocate. Lee has a decade of experience in the field of architecture Lee is the founding organizer of the Design Justice Platform and organized the Design As Protest National Day of Action. Bryan has led two award-winning architecture and design programs for high school students through the Arts Council of New Orleans and the National Organization of Minority Architects.


Mayor Marvin Rees
Marvin Rees was elected mayor in May 2016. On that day Bristol became the first major European city to have elected a mayor of black African heritage. He describes becoming mayor as another expression of a deeper commitment to building a fairer, more inclusive world.

He began his working life with Tearfund, one of the UK’s leading international development agency. He went on to spend time working in the US with Sojourners, a Washington D.C. based social justice organisation, and President Clinton’s advisor Rev Dr Tony Campolo. On returning to the UK he worked with BBC Bristol as a Broadcast Journalist, with the Black Development Agency supporting the BME-led voluntary sector and NHS Bristol’s Public Health team on Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health.

During the same period, he completed his first Masters in Political Theory and Government, and a second in Global Economic Development. He also had a number of public appointments including the National Community Forum, became a Yale World Fellow and co-founded the City Leadership Programme.

Marvin was born and brought up in Bristol by his mother, moving between St Pauls, Lawrence Weston and Easton. He stepped into the political world having graduated from Operation Black Vote and Labour Future Candidate programmes. It was there he found open doors where previously there appeared to be none. He was also challenged that the most vulnerable needed people to move beyond merely pointing the failures of world’s political leadership, and take the risk of stepping up to try do something to fix it.

Marvin has declared Bristol a City of Hope, built on ambition, inclusion and social justice.

During his first term in office he has overseen the building of over 8,000 homes, announced the development of a mass transit system and provided quality work experiences for over 3,500 children who wouldn’t readily have access. Bringing fairness to the city council, he has achieved accredited Living Wage Employer status, and introduced Ban the Box. He led the successful bid to bring Channel 4 to Bristol and is leading the city’s response to both the climate and ecological emergencies. Building a compassionate city, he has kept all children’s centres and libraries open and led city-wide campaigns on period poverty and child hunger.

He lives in Bristol with his wife and three children.

Zsuzsanna Szegedy-Maszák
Dr. Zsuzsanna Szegedy‐Maszák is the head of the Budapest Gallery, Budapest History Museum, which consists of the Department of Art in Public Spaces and the Exhibition Department. Her field of interests range from 19th-century photography to contemporary new media art. She wrote her dissertation on the photographic oeuvre of 19th‐century Hungarian painter‐photographer Miklós Barabás. In 2019, she served as the curator of the Hungarian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. Szegedy-Maszák has recently organized an exhibition on politically charged sculptures removed from public spaces in the years following the fall of communism in Hungary, which will open early next year. The Budapest Gallery, along with other municipal institutions and independent scholars, is currently engaged in the preparatory works for a memorial dedicated to victims of sexual assault against women during wartime. The call for proposals will allow for a wide range of possibilities, and part of this long-term project will be the presentation of entries for this memorial.  


Rebecca Belmore
A member of the Lac Seul First Nation (Anishinaabe), Rebecca Belmore is an internationally recognized multidisciplinary artist. Rooted in the political and social realities of Indigenous communities, Belmore’s works make evocative connections between bodies, land and language. Her work has been presented in solo exhibitions at institutions including Audain Art Museum, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada (2020); MAC, Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2019); AGO, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario, Canada (2018). Belmore’s work has been presented in major international exhibitions including the Istanbul Biennial, Turkey (2019); documenta, Kassel, Germany (2017); and 51st Venice Biennale, Italy (2005). Belmore has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2016); Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2013); Hnatyshyn Visual Arts Award (2009); and Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation’s VIVA Award (2004).


Next City's coverage is generously underwritten by the Kresge Foundation.

High Line programming is made possible by a generous community of supporters. The High Line Network is made possible by the founding support of The JPB Foundation. Other major support is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Major support for High Line Art is provided by The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston.

Lead support for High Line Art comes from Amanda and Don Mullen. Major support is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, and Charina Endowment Fund. Additional support provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and The Scintilla Foundation. High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the New York City Council, under the leadership of NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Major support for the High Line Plinth comes from the High Line Plinth Committee, a group of contemporary art leaders committed to realizing major commissions and engaging in the public success of the Plinth.

Support for the High Line Plinth is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros, Elizabeth Belfer, Suzanne Deal Booth, Fairfax Dorn, Steve Ells, Kerianne Flynn, Andy and Christine Hall, Hermine Riegerl Heller and David B. Heller, J. Tomilson and Janine Hill, The Holly Peterson Foundation, Annie Hubbard, Miyoung Lee and Neil Simpkins, Dorothy Lichtenstein, Amanda and Don Mullen, Douglas Oliver and Sherry Brous, Mario Palumbo and Stefan Gargiulo, Susan and Stephen Scherr, Susan and David Viniar, and Anonymous.

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