As the statues fall, an answer as to who should be placed on pedestals is revealed
Antonio Diaz Chacon was 23 when he jumped in his car to pursue an alleged child abductor. An undocumented immigrant from Mexico, he later rescued the girl and called the police. Isra Daraiseh was a student during the dangerous water crisis in Flint Michigan. She led the efforts of Muslim organizations to distribute drinking water and free tests. You’ve probably never heard of Antonio or Israel, but that’s about to change thanks to a provocative new art installation. Reclaiming the Pedestals: Protector Monuments, a pop-up at the intersection of public art, storytelling, and activism, asks people to re-imagine what monuments should represent and who they should celebrate.
Life-size statues of Antonio and Israel will be on display along with three other sculptures commissioned by I Am Your Protector (IAYP). The sculptures are created by Joe Reginella, an artist known as “Banksy of Monuments,” and will be installed in Union Square in New York City. The inspiration behind the project comes from IAYP, a group dedicated to knocking down walls across perceived lines of religious, ethnic and gender divisions. They aim to diffuse the sense of “other” that people feel towards people who are different from themselves. This “otherness” can often become the catalyst for conflict and hatred.
Public monuments, which literally place people on pedestals in order to collectively remember and celebrate them as a society, reflect our shared values. Although monuments surround us in public squares around the world, conversations and activism around the lack of representation and symbols of racism among them are growing stronger. Monuments across the world – from statues of Rhodes and Churchill in London to Richmond, the Davis monument in Virginia are being protested, vandalized or simply demolished as pressure increases to remove all symbols of racism and inequality. In London, the capital’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced the convening of a special commission to discuss the dismantling (and erection) of the city’s statues.
Positive stories like those of Antonio, Israel, and others in the installation – those of marginalized and misunderstood groups – are rarely told and rarely portrayed in our statues. Currently, whether through stories circulating online or rhetoric dominating the political sphere, many stories around these communities inspire polarization, fear and hatred. Yet at the same time, the public is underexposed to messages that encourage unity and brotherhood.
The genesis of the project was really a defining moment for Dani Laurence, I Am Your Protector, co-founder and leader of the project. Laurence was visiting a museum in Venice several years ago and was drawn to an exhibition of statues. She remembers being struck by the power of their presence, then something clicked, making her realize the connection to her mission to tell untold positive stories of refugees and the marginalized. Maybe this could be a new way to share their stories. “I wanted to think of a way to tell positive stories of refugees and minorities in a way that is most memorable and it occurred to me. The statues are both material and conceptual and help us describe how we feel. see ourselves and others. “Imagine,” Laurence said with emotion: “A refugee child walking hand in hand with his parents passing these statues and seeing someone from his own community celebrated on a pedestal – and not denigrated as a burden, or worse, in the evening news. It changes the narrative in a lasting and memorable way. “Four years later, that epiphany becomes a reality.
Each statue tells the story of an individual who protected someone else. For example, in 2016 Mohsen Saleh Alwais, a Syrian refugee living in the Netherlands, noticed a crowd of people taking photos watching a man drown in a canal. He instinctively began to take off his jacket and dive into the water. Someone tried to stop him and warn him that if he jumped two people would drown. “Maybe the first thought in my mind was that the man had a family and children. It wasn’t that I knew him or that I knew he had a family, but it was in my imagination. Because we have lived through war and death, the value of family is so strong with me, “recalls Alwais. I paused for a second. I didn’t think about physics, my only thought was for her. family – that’s what I thought. ”Alwais was both surprised and humbled when he learned that his saving action was going to be immortalized through a statue of him. from him he can see the point of the project. “You know what people need? Good people everywhere need a chance to prove their goodness. What you hear in the news and social media and in especially with refugees you only hear negative stories, no one shows refugees in a good way. be that it can change the ideology that there are good refugees — they’re human … it might. ”
New Yorker, Wesley Autrey, a construction worker, is pictured for his life-saving actions when he noticed a man had collapsed on the subway tracks and jumped to save his life. life. When the only train appeared, Autrey covered the man with her body as five wagons drove threateningly overhead. Jewish security guards who protected mosques in London following anti-Muslim incidents are also featured.