Creative discourse Shaping the Past

Decolonisation: Monument Lab grant holder Joel Garcia (Los Angeles): The artist, who lives in Southern California (USA), comes from a family of the Huichol indigenous Mexican people, who suffered under the mass displacement of Native Americans. He has spent his life creatively exploring, analyzing and experiencing white supremacy.
Monument Lab grant holder Joel Garcia (Los Angeles): The artist, who lives in Southern California (USA), comes from a family of the Huichol indigenous Mexican people, who suffered under the mass displacement of Native Americans. He has spent his life creatively exploring, analyzing and experiencing white supremacy. | © CJ Willis
  • 01. January 2020 — 31. December 2021

  • Culture of memory, Postcolonial art production, Reappraisal of the colonial past

  • Philadelphia (United States of America); Berlin (Germany); Washington (United States of America)

“Shaping the Past” encourages artistic interrogation of racist and colonialist monuments as part of collective memory in both North America and Germany. The multidisciplinary project promotes transnational exchange between artists, curators and historians with the aim of re-contextualising monuments.

Places of remembrance such as monuments, statues, parks and street names form the collective perception of a society. They decisively influence what is perceived, erased and disavowed. Memory workers illuminate the (in)visibility and potential of differing interpretations of the past in public space. The project Shaping the Past brings together memory workers from a number of American and German cities who are exploring innovative ways to build and rehabilitate monuments in their local context.

18 artists from the USA, Mexico, Canada and Germany are being supported through a transnational fellowship programme to develop new and creative outlets for public art, history and memory. Shaping the Past also includes an online conference in 2020 and a number of “Unconferences” in North American cities and in Germany. In 2021, the project will culminate in an exhibition and a publication on the grant holders' projects as a comprehensive intervention and updating of the current monument landscape.

Shaping the Past is a partnership between the Goethe-Institut, Monument Lab - an independent studio for art in public space and history in Philadelphia/USA dedicated to critical discourse on the past, present and future of monuments - and the German Federal Agency for Civic Education / Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (bpb)  in Germany.