RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The New York Times has named the Robert E. Lee monument - in its current state - as the most influential form of American protest art since World War II.
The list was compiled from artists and other professionals in the field who nominated various visual pieces they felt were the most powerful American protest art.
The 13-ton monument was erected in the former capital of the Confederacy in 1890 and is the last Confederate monument still standing along Monument Avenue after Mayor Levar Stoney ordered the others to be removed. The Lee monument sits on land owned by the state and a case regarding the potential removal is in the court system.
Following the death of George Floyd, protests broke out across the country, including here in Richmond. The statue has been painted and holograms have been projected on the monument. The area was also renamed “Marcus-David Peters Circle” by Richmond protesters in honor of Marcus-David Peters, a VCU alum who was killed by police during a mental episode.
“There were projections on it, it became an activist site. The transformation of that space, to me, felt like exactly what protest art is. The day I was there, I had a big camera with me, so multiple families would ask me to take their portrait in front of the statue, which I would do with their cellphones — and just in that way, it became activated,” artist Catherine Opie told the NYT about her thoughts on the monument. “I’m really interested in ideas of activism in relationship to activating these sites. The question now is about the removal of that monument — in my opinion, all monuments from that era need to be removed — but what does that do to the history of the activation there? I find it a very poignant moment of protest art.”
Other nominations that made the top five include “Silence = Death design collective, “Silence = Death,” 1987”; “United States of Attica,” 1971-72″; “A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday,” 2015”; and “Museum Tags: Second Movement (Overture) or Overture con Claque — Overture with Hired Audience Members,” 1993.” To view the full top 25 list from the NYT, click here.
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