Thinking through Monuments

A slide that reads "Thinking through Monuments, Video Essays and Resources".


August 1–September 1, 2021




We've compiled a full bibliography that includes resources from each episode, texts by interlocuters, and their recommended readings.


Thinking through Monuments is a series of video essays that explore what, who, where, when, and why of monuments through interviews with twelve interlocutors

This project presents five episodes, each offering a constellation of questions that contend with the place and meaning of monuments in our landscapes. The topics build on one another and shape a multidimensional perspective of monuments as objects, symbols, sites, as well as agents of history and instigators of contemporary conversations. We draw on the work of artists, curators, organizers, scholars, and teachers around us who urge us to look in-depth and with care, and offer myriad ways for us to think through monuments.

Episode 1

What is a monument? asks the following questions: How is a monument different from a memorial or public art? Can a monument be ephemeral, mutable, invisible, or conceptual? What might a monument reveal or obscure?

Episode 2

Who makes a monument? asks the following questions: Who funds it? Who designs and builds it? For whom is a monument made? Who gives it power and meaning?

Episode 3

Where do we find monuments? asks the following questions: Do monuments exist in only public spaces? Where is a monument welcome or unwelcome? Can monuments be fugitive or held hostage?

Episode 4

When do we build monuments? asks the following questions: What is the life cycle of a monument? What does it mean for a monument to live or die? What is the afterlife of a monument?

Episode 5

Why monuments? asks the following questions: Why do we erect, uphold, or topple monuments? Why should we care or not care about a monument? How do monuments perform and proliferate? How do monuments teach?


Thinking Through Monuments is organized by Liz Park, Curator, and Emily Reynolds, Marketing and Communications Manager, with UB graduate students Maria Barrientos and Eric Huk. Resource Guides are prepared by Eric Huk. Special thanks to the project interlocutors: Sean Anderson, Sara Capen, Charles Davis II, Paul Farber, Cecil Foster, Heather Hart, Candice Hopkins, Jillian McManemin, Karyn Olivier, Dawit Petros, Henry Louis Taylor, and Lillian Williams.