On May 17th, 2014 the historic Boston Cyclorama was filled with erected walls, works of art, hundreds of people, and bustling sounds. During the exhibition a wooden crate was moved to different locations on the ground of the space. The device was relocated every half hour and was moved by one person, an architectural designer. Some chose to engage with the crate and listen to the audio, while many never even noticed its existence. The artist was a visitor during the exhibit.
This is the only Facebook account I have ever held. For a month I created private accounts for three of my deceased relatives. Each page updated information current to the date, but ranged in year, location, and language– all existing on a single timeline. Those killed during the Bolshevik Revolution became the voices describing the current weather in Boston, a meteor fall in Russia, or the intense match of Miracle on Ice.
Two participants sat across from one another. One listened to an audio device playing a recording from when I took my mother to an installation of a communal apartment. The other participant is watching film documentation of the artist walking through the communal apartment installation. The installation was by a Russian artist, and my mother, like many immigrants, can still vividly remember the living conditions of these kinds of homes in the USSR. She did not understand how this could be art; more so, she did not enjoy how inaccurate the installation was done, portraying the communal apartment in much more grave conditions than what it ever was. When I told her that it could serve an educational purpose, her response was simple, “I’d rather tell you how it really was.”
Since the beginning of time, people have created monuments, fully aware that those monuments will outlive them. From East to West, these monuments have taken different shapes and been erected for varying purposes.
In this triptych, each vertical marker is a snapshot (or encapsulation) of a specific time period, while the sun’s setting on the unified horizon represents a consistent cycle of time passing. Monuments and memorials frame, manipulate, reconstruct, and disseminate public memory––mimicking a practice we all participate in on an individual scale. Countering these public sites of memory, or destroying them, can often become a way to counter grand narratives.
What if the future of commemoration is not permanent or fixed to the ground; something we can not physically visit. Instead it is a form of commemoration that is constantly shifting and crafting new histories within the spaces between stories.