On Shaping the Past

Shaping the Past / Gestaltung der Vergangenheit

Shaping the Past connects with and builds on the work of emerging leaders of local, national, and transnational movements to remember through reflection and with urgency.

Places of remembrance, such as monuments, statues, parks, and street names, shape shared perceptions of society. They influence what is remembered, erased, disavowed, and potentially open for reinterpretation. Significant interventions into the field have been pushed by artists and practitioners who seek antiracist, de-colonial and transnational perspectives. These current discourses on dealing with the monuments and other forms of memoralization shed light on the (in)visibilities of and potential for different interpretations of the past in the public realm.
 
Through Shaping the Past (2019-2021), the Goethe-Institut, Monument Lab and the Federal Agency for Civic Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung / bpb) connected memory workers across Canada, Mexico, the U.S., and Germany who have piloted new approaches to shape the past in their own local contexts.
 
The project included a major public conference built into Monument Lab’s annual Town Hall (October 2020), local events (Fall 2020), and multi-site exhibition across multiple Goethe-Instituts in North America in 2021 and 2022. A forthcoming publication will contextualize the Shaping the Past Fellows’ projects as sweeping interventions and updates to the monumental landscape.

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