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What San Franciscans Want in Their New Monuments: A Report

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The New Monuments Taskforce was asked to study San Francisco’s 87 public monuments, and what do with them.  The project mapped out where all our monuments and asked the public everything from ‘what monuments (if any) should be removed’, to ‘what should a monument be?’

The taskforce is led by SF artist Cheyenne Concepcion and backed by the Goeth Institute and the Monument Lab, a national organization dedicated to the study of public art.  The Relic Report is an unofficial municipal study of San Francisco’s monuments and memorials and their intersection with our country’s racist history. Self-commissioned by New Monuments Taskforce, the two-part publication documents a playful investigation of public monuments in the city’s civic art collection.

Remember when they finally removed Christopher Columbus from Coit Tower…in 2020?  Some monuments serve to divide us, while others can inspire and educate us.

Relic report Volume 2: “We learned what the people of San Francisco (and beyond) want to see in their new monuments. They want to see more diversity in allegory, artistic style and representation. They want monuments that make our shared history visible, not just the dominant version. They want to see more monuments that celebrate community efforts not just the accomplishments of prominent men. They want monuments that are dynamic, temporal and ever changing. They want monuments that are honest; ones that address trials and not just triumphs. They want monuments that make you stop and think twice.”

Lotta’s Fountain is San Francisco’s oldest surviving monument and meeting place for 1906 earthquake survivors. San Franciscans still meet there every year on April 18th.

Read the entire Relic Report vol 1 & 2 here. 

6 major findings in the Relic Report Vol 2, based on feedback from San Franciscans:
1. New monuments must expand public knowledge.
2. New monuments must not be on the side of oppression.
3. New monuments must disrupt old ideas of what monuments can be.
4. New monuments must be dynamic and everchanging.
5. New monuments must tell stories on a community level.
6. New monuments must challenge observers to stop and think twice

I asked Cheyenne about this latest Relic Report:

 Q: New monuments must be dynamic and ever changing”.  You mean they’ll simply be swapped after some amount of time? ie no statue is permanent?
Cheyenne: “This is recommendation is a bit abstract and is a response to the idea that monuments just stand there and dont engage, there was an overwhelming call for monuments to initiate performance, temporality and community gathering — so when we do design New Monuments, they should evoke dynamism.”

 Q:  What are next steps for the new monuments taskforce?
Cheyenne:  “We are doing a workshop next month to engage the monuments and are commissioning 6 artists to create AR projects that reckon with some of the monuments (I’m thinking I will turn it into a little experimental walking tour in Golden Gate Park.
We have a public exhibit planned for June based on Relic Report and are in early talks to do a monument prototyping exhibition in fall/winter this is TBD so not to be published yet!  Overall trying to create a platform to do more experimental work around monuments/memorialization.”

 


The Relic Report is an unofficial municipal study of San Francisco’s monuments and memorials and their intersection with our country’s racist history. Self-commissioned by New Monuments Taskforce, the two-part publication documents a playful investigation of public monuments in the city’s civic art collection.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor here at Broke-Ass Stuart. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife (not so much nightlife anymore).

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