Curator and historian Paul Farber and artist Ken Lum join Hirshhorn associate curator Anne Reeve for a discussion on their independent art and history studio Monument Lab, which works across creative and civic disciplines to cultivate critical conversations around monuments and collective memory.
As monuments undergo renewed scrutiny, Monument Lab’s efforts to reimagine the role of symbols and systems of justice in public space are more important today than ever. Founded by Farber and Lum in 2012, Monument Lab’s projects have engaged people in challenging the role of monuments through a combination of citywide art exhibitions, site-specific commissions, research initiatives, online journals, podcasts, workshops, and more. The studioemerged from a series of classroom conversations in courses taught by Farber and Lum, and grew through a spirit of collaboration into a project to collect monument proposals from thousands of everyday people. This effort led to a 2017 exhibition of temporary prototype monuments by twenty artists across ten sites in Philadelphia. Since then, the sudio has launched a national fellows program; expanded conversations around monuments, memory, and belonging to print and online platforms; and has continued to work with individuals, cultural organizations, and municipal governments to shift the understanding and influence of monuments to be more inclusive of a broader perspective.