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As Debates Over Monuments Continue, Artists Erect Their Own at a Sculpture Park in Queens

As the Black Lives Matter Movement continues across the US and abroad, debates over what to do with monuments to (mostly) dead white men known for their racist and imperialist views have been reignited. In New York and elsewhere, such abhorrent public tributes to figures including Theodore Roosevelt and Christopher Columbus have been removed, defaced, and protested, echoing calls to better grapple with histories of racially motivated oppression often glossed over by public monuments.

On July 1, Socrates Sculpture Park will become home to a timely public artwork by New York-based artist Nona Faustine, which will be mounted on the billboard above the park’s main entryway in Long Island City, Queens. “In Praise of Famous Men No More” features photographic renderings of 19th-century monuments depicting Roosevelt and fellow US president Abraham Lincoln. The images are bisected by red and black lines, and act as stark critiques of the fraught, yet often romanticized narratives upheld by such neoclassical sculptures. Faustine’s work is a continuation of her My Country series (2016–2020), which interrogates “selfhood, power, history, and who is left out” of traditional notions of the American dream, as the artist described to Hyperallergic...

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