The Shaping the Past exhibition has arrived in Washington, DC! Throughout the month of June, we will spotlight three Shaping the Past fellows and their work as Monument Lab fellows through a poster display in the bay window of our friends at The Corner at Whitman-Walker:
1701 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Window will be on R St. close to the Goethe-Institut sign.
Between June 10 and June 17, find out more about Pittsburgh-based multidisciplinary artist Alisha B. Wormsley.
Between June 17 and June 24, find out more about Baltimore-based multimedia artist Ada Pinkston.
Between June 24 and July 1, find out more about Richmond-based historical strategist and social entrepreneur Free Egunfemi Bangura.
About the Fellows and Projects:
There Are Black People in the Future is a participatory project that declares presence and futurity through repeated declaration. The project’s title was introduced by Alisha B. Wormsley, an interdisciplinary artist and cultural producer. Throughout her artwork, Wormsley compels the preservation and amplification of Black women and their stories in collective memory practices. Her project began as a billboard in Pittsburgh and has since inspired the installation of similar billboards across the world.
The collective force of There Are Black People in the Future has also inspired a wide range of protest signs, songs, essays, theoretical texts, testimonies, and collective speculations for the future. Alisha Wormsley proclaims There Are Black People in the Future as “a ritual and a prophecy.”
The movement has spread, with the construction of billboards accompanied by programs supporting local artists and communities across Detroit, Charlotte, New York, Kansas City, Houston, Chicago, Oakland, Accra, Belfast, and London.
Situated on the footprint of emptied pedestals and other contested spaces of memory, LandMarked engages contemporary debates around what could replace toppled monuments. Artist and researcher Ada Pinkston initiated the project the same year Baltimore removed three Lost Cause Confederate memorials from parks and plazas, installed between 1903 and 1948. By physically occupying the city’s emptied pedestals, Pinkston called deliberate attention to the absence of Black women’s narratives in sanctioned public spaces of civic commemoration.
In addition to her performances and site-specific installations, Pinkston organized a series of public workshops for community members in Baltimore to consider three questions: What does a monument for all people look like? Where would that monument be? Where are your monuments?
Free Egunfemi Bangura is an independent historical strategist and social entrepreneur from Richmond, VA. In 2013, she founded Untold RVA and Untold Tours to inspire non-traditional audiences with bold typography, audio enhanced street art, and urban exploration.
Bangura has been credited as the originator of the international Commemorative Justice movement. She is a member of Richmond Memorial Health Foundation’s Health Equity Artists cohort, a bureau chief at the United States Department of Arts and Culture, a founding member of the BLK RVA action team, a faculty advisor at Initiatives of Change USA, and the elected chair of Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney’s History and Culture Commission.
Bangura's current interactive street art project is Black Monument Avenue, a three-block urban exploration experience in Richmond's majority Black Highland Park neighborhood. Visitors can safely explore this outdoor museum by driving through and calling a dedicated phone line with unique access codes for hearing songs, poems and messages about each installation. Neighbors, tourists and curious visitors to Black Monument Avenue will be greeted by large format African patterns adorning the streetscape alongside bold, colorful statements affirming the appreciation for ancestral remembrance and reclaimed memory culture.
About the Shaping the Past Exhibition:
Shaping the Past builds connections and showcases patterns that constitute a transnational memory culture at work to address systemic racism and sexism, social and economic exclusion, and legacies of colonial and state violence. Featuring works by artists, activists, and collectives from North America and Germany — all part of the Monument Lab Fellows Program — this exhibition broadens understandings and illuminates ongoing memory interventions that reimagine civil society.
The spotlighted projects offer innovative and reparative models that highlight creative changemakers who are actively shaping the past and our paths forward. Part of a titular project begun in 2019, Shaping the Past will be presented by Goethe-Instituts across North America between June and November 2021.