The National Parks service teamed up with the National Capital Planning Committee and the Van Alen Institute to create a call for art that expanded the future of memorials in Washington D.C. They wanted it to inspire the artist to think outside the status quo for memorials to date. They wanted this call for art to turn into a call for action. The issues at hand were not wars but instead climate change and political problems such as immigration. Many of these calls were proposed as temporary pieces because of the already overcrowded National Mall but also the fast-paced society that we live in today. If they were not temporary, they were meant to change over time.
The winner, Climate Chronograph, proposed at Hains Point, Washington D.C., the point where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers meet the Washington Channel by Azimuth Land Craft was meant to represent the future rise of sea level. They want to plant a succession of cherry trees on a gradual gradient that the viewers could walk around. As sea level rises over time, the trees begin to die, and you are left with the skeletons of these trees, below them a growth in wetland ecology. This memorial is not only one to experience over time but also hold educational purposes as well. Azimuth Land Craft describes it as a “memorial of decay.”
“An embrace of indeterminacy, Climate Chronograph matures as it decays and evolves with natural succession. By ceding control of the tip of an island that serves as a keystone of flood control and is maintained by a steward expressly committed to non-intervention, the memorial sacrifices itself to what will be. Its entropy makes legible in the scale of inches and feet the global effects of rising seas.”
Azimuth Land Craft
I find this to be an unyielding statement and something that can be applied to many future monuments and memorials to come. Regardless of whether or not you are talking about sea level, immigration, or climate change, we are going to have to sacrifice ourselves to what is to come. To be able to create memorials to represent this inevitable loss we can better accept and maybe help prevent events from occurring. There were also many honorable mentions that were a part of the competition that also brought some great ideas to light.
American Wild: A Memorial
For example, the proposed American Wild: A Memorial by Doyle, Holzman, Lipschitz, and Steiner was a project that brought National Parks into the D.C. metro railway. Using 3D imaging, they would project these photographs onto the walls and ceilings of the metro stations. The hope would be to invite the public to visit these National Parks. After experience the park they come home and then may have the urge to vote for acts that promote clean air and healthier National Parks. View, Visit, Vote, was the initial concept for this memorial, to motivate change.
Another honorable mention that I found to be ingenious was the piece entitled VOICEOVER by the team TALK TALK. Their vision was simple, for “the memorial we create in the future can become more representative, not a single voice, but of a multi-cultural people that hold diverging understandings, and even, conflicting perspectives, on the events of their past. I feel as if there is constantly an opposition to a memorial when it is proposed and to bring this concept into the designing of a work may solve many of these issues. It is also a good representation of our society today. Essentially they proposed for mechanical flying parrots to populate our National Mall and tell stories to the visitors of our national history. These stories would be actual recorded people from diverse background, possibly discussing different viewpoints about the same event. As visitors walked around the Mall and saw the great monuments of the past, they would also be greeted with a backstory, one they may not have known anything about. The reason for using parrots hold many significances, one being that parrots like many Americans are not indigenous to the United States, they only speak in captivity, play a role in colonization of the exotic, and they ease the trouble of not wanting to speak directly with another human about our troublesome past. It is these conceptual ideas that memorials will be shifting into as we dive further into the future.
I’m(migrant): Honoring the Journey
One final honorable mention, I’m(migrant): Honoring the Journey, proposed by Coston-Hardy, Johnson, Lin-Luse, and Mohan wanted to use the cities bus lines and streets to tell the stories of immigrants coming to America. Many of the streets in D.C. are named after states and gives an excellent opportunity for a visitor to use a podcast or something of that nature to hear than a story of an immigrant who made it to that state while traveling on that street in the bus. Bus stops would also second as story telling locations. The act of using oral stories and voice is essential for this proposed memorial. It makes it much more personal. These are important aspects to think about when considering memorials and monuments of the future.