Photographic Iconoclasm: Lee Friedlander’s The American Monument

Fiona Allen, George Constantine* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

On 16 August 2017, the Mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh, ordered the removal of a monument to Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson from Wyman Park Dell, a public park in the centre of the city. With almost no prior notice and no definitive plan for their future, the figures were taken down overnight and moved to an unspecified location. In addition to the monument to Lee and Jackson, Pugh also ordered the removal of the Confederate Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, the Confederate Women’s Monument and a statue of Roger B. Taney, the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision in 1857. Although the Taney statue did not explicitly refer to the Confederacy, his ruling that African Americans, both free and enslaved, could not be recognised as citizens is intimately entwined with its history.1 Citing public safety as her primary motive, Pugh’s announcement came just days after an outbreak of violence at a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, an event intended to protest the removal of a statue of Lee and promote the unification of the white nationalist movement.2 Yet this was not the first time that such a decree had been issued. Following the Charleston church shooting in June 2015, a number of cities began the process of removing Confederate monuments from their public spaces – most famously, New Orleans. Unsurprisingly, this decision received a significant amount of media attention, sparking a series of debates on the cultural heritage of the United States and granting the monument a renewed significance in public consciousness.3
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-385
Number of pages25
JournalOxford Art Journal
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2021

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