As COVID-19 forced us inside, arts institutions were tasked with the challenge of creating socially distant art experiences for communities to engage with outside of their shuttered galleries. Beyond the institutions, artists flocked to the new streetside canvases of boarded up businesses to paint images of essential workers, reclaim public spaces to call out for equity and liberation in the name of George Floyd and so many others, and to attempt to create some sense of community as bodies continued to be forced to distance.

The boards, meant to remove access and close up, have become spaces to open—open for dialogue, for creativity, and for public voice. This creative action is synonymous with the aesthetics of revolt, a colorful celebration of resistance, endurance, beauty, and community self-determination. Inspired by this movement, artist Caleb Duarte brings together artists and collectives from across the Bay Area to build a reflection of ourselves, of this moment, through an architectural intervention that is as ever-changing as the world we live in.

The Monument as Living Memory illustrates the closure, dismantling, and restructuring of institutions, the toppling of monuments, and the uprising of a palpable collective spirit across our country. Taking form as a larger-than-life board in the public space, this work echoes the simultaneous temporary closure of YBCA’s galleries and opening of a platform for public voice. Within the board lies a distinct cut out in the shape of a monument, asking audiences to question what is behind the shadows, what is haunting us, and how can art and art institutions work towards its dismantlement.

For eight months, Duarte invited Bay Area artists and collectives to bring new revisions, additions, and cover ups every two weeks. Now in the work’s second chapter, invited artists will continue to transform this evolving artwork through 2021.

The iterative nature of the work allows for artists to respond with the same urgency, responsiveness, and passion that we see within the communities marching in the streets, creating murals, and demanding for a better, more just world.

The Monument as Living Memory is one of the many YBCA initiatives reimagining how we can safely bring our community together in-person once again. Experience the work 24/7. Always free. No appointment necessary.

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