Art installation on police violence against Black Americans arrives in Washington, D.C.

As the nation continues to face the novel coronavirus pandemic, another public health crisis continues, too, and this one also disproportionately impacts Black and brown Americans. What is it? Police violence. As protests against police brutality continue in cities across the country, a new art installation called Society’s Cage reminds people who visit the National Mall in Washington, D.C. that systemic racism and violence against Black Americans haven’t gone anywhere.

“‘Society’s Cage’ attempts to contextualize these murders within 400 years of state violence in America,” Dayton Schroeter, the principal architect on the project, told local outlet DCist in an interview, referencing the recent deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police. Schroeter added that the art group wanted to “contribute to the conversation in our society.” 

In a news release from the Smith Group, an integrated design firm that sponsored the project, Schroeter describes the installation as a “physical manifestation of the institutional structures that have undermined the progress of Black Americans over the history of this country.” 

Here’s all that went into the installation, and what it means symbolically. This installation includes weathered steel bars that hang from a steel plate ceiling that’s grounded on a 15-foot platform. Schroeter told DCist that even the bar lengths hold meaning; the shorter bars represent the obstacles Black Americans battle to survive, while the bars which run to the ground represent the statistical probability of being incarcerated as a Black American. The gravity itself suggests the odds built up against Black Americans, while the cubes of bars represent white supremacy.

“The bars are interrupted and converge with four datasets representing different forms of racism and state violence,” designer Julian Arrington said, as reported by DC Media Group.

Viewers can literally step inside the installation, where music from local D.C. musicians plays on a loop. Each of the four music compositions is eight minutes and 46 seconds long, which is the length of time former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck, as he begged for his life. At the base of the installation, viewers can read facts about systemic racism, as well as quotes. 

This exhibit will be on display on the National Mall at 12th Street and Madison Drive NW (across from the Smithsonian castle) until September 4, 2020. The group hopes to find new homes for the exhibit after, ideally around the country.

Here are some moving photographs of the installation.

Society's Cage installation opened on the National Mall. Visitors are encouraged to hold their breath as long as they can to evoke the often heard plea among victims of police killings “I can’t breathe”. #societyscage #nationalmall #artivism #BlackLivesMatter

— Matt Zanolli (@MZProperties) August 31, 2020

“Society’s Cage” art exhibit a mile away from the Washington Monument by @SmithGroup

— Dan Toomey (@dhtoomey) August 28, 2020

And some photos of the installation being created.

The #SocietysCage project is coming to life on the National Mall in time to open Friday, August 28. Guided by data, the pavilion symbolizes the historic forces of racialized state violence. Learn more about the project in @ArchRecord:

— SmithGroup (@SmithGroup) August 27, 2020

Political art is far from new in Washington, D.C. As Daily Kos previously covered, “living” statues recently called out a number of Trump’s biggest failures and disgraces, including his responses to the pandemic and protests. Even before the live installation performance pieces, The Daily Show had another take on performance art when they had a truck drive around D.C. while blaring clips of Trump insulting and mocking senators. And of course, all of the hilarious baby Trump blimps over the years. 

from Daily Kos

Post a Comment