The theatrical presentation of the painting, in its custom-built rotating theatre and nostalgic “sunset of a era” narrative given by its guides, gave me the distinct impression that it honoured a history that did not include me. These experiences very clearly in my mind established a mythology of the South and an ideal life I could never attain; although I was too young to articulate it.
11 August, 2018 marked the first anniversary of the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The gathering of white supremacists to protest the removal of the city’s Confederate monument and its horrific aftermath sparked a national conversation about these structures and their fate. Throughout my life, I have called several locations across Georgia home. Four of them are featured here; Athens, Augusta, Louisville, and Canton (Cherokee County), and Decatur. Each place is home to a Confederate monument in a highly conspicuous, public space.
Two days before the Charlottesville anniversary, I left my current home in Wakefield, Rhode Island in order to travel to each city and confront its monument. By physically occupying each space to launch my own grassroots organising, I seek to reclaim and transform it to honour my own ancestors and their communities rather than the men who fought to continue exploiting them.