Monument, 2004
16mm FILM 60 Seconds

“Everything that a monument is not—ephemeral, flickering, and insubstantial.”  Mark Alice Durant

Monument is a reflection on how a choreographed creation of a living monument unfolds a coded history. Filmed at a cheerleading convention, I think of it as a 60-second semiotic analysis of cheerleading, a recreational act that oscillates between the past and present, breathing life into dead monuments.

Urbanite #47 May 2008

On Your Mark

“Notes on Monumentality” at the Baltimore Museum of Art, through May 25

“I am interested in monuments as a kind of urban decoration,” says Mark Alice Durant, guest curator for the Baltimore Museum of Art’s experimental rotating exhibition space, Front Room. 

Durant’s exhibition, “Notes on Monumentality,” features the work of twenty-two artists spanning various media and time periods, two-thirds of which were plucked directly from the vaults of the BMA’s permanent collection. 

“It was a great opportunity to present works trans-historically,” says Durant, “so we can see how attitudes towards the monumental shift and change depending on the culture’s attitude towards its history.”

Baltimore artist Deirtra Thompson’s video Monument features grainy black-and-white footage of cheerleaders. Only one minute in length and playing on a loop, the video shows members of the squad lifted into the air over and over again in an endless choreographed routine that becomes, as Durant puts it, “everything that a monument is not—ephemeral, flickering, and insubstantial.” 

Thompson’s video from 2004 is juxtaposed with more historical and literal odes to the monument, as in Philip Galle’s fanciful 16th century engravings of ancient statuary. 

On view until May 25, “Notes on Monumentality” re-contextualizes notions of the monument, a nice complement to the nickname John Quincy Adams bestowed upon Baltimore—“the Monumental City.”

—Ding Ren