Goethe Institut – Commemoration and public space: “Shaping the Past” opens the discussion all the month of October

Shaping the past

The Goethe-Institut and Monument Lab are launching a project to rethink the monuments and the relationships we have with them.

In the wake of civil unrest, “Shaping the Past” is a collaboration of artists and activists who examine cultural memory in Montreal and around the world

October 8-31

October 8th will mark the launch of Shaping the Past, a partnership between the Goethe-Institut, the Monument Lab (a collective of artists and activists based in Philadelphia in the United States) and The Bundeszentrale for politische Bildung/bpb (the Federal Center for Political Education/bpb), which examines the ways in which our society interprets public spaces. In the wake of urgent social justice protests across North America (and subsequently around the world), Shaping the Past is a transnational exchange program that brings together artists and activists in a dialogue aimed at highlighting critical interventions in places and spaces of memory, and in particular monuments. This collaboration and the resulting exchanges will provide innovative models on how to commemorate the past, create dialogue and strengthen democracy through public spaces around the world. Shaping the past will explore ways to commemorate new spaces from an anti-racist, feminist and inclusive perspective. The project will also consider how to contextualize existing problematic monuments.

Shaping the past consists of an online conference from October 8 to 9, 2020, two virtual events in Montreal on October 17 and 31, 2020, and a series of events and interventions in the United States, Canada and Mexico in October 2020 as part of Memory Month. As well as a travelling exhibition in 2021 and a publication.

Shaping the Past Launch

October 8-9, 2020


Conference, workshops and online discussions.

Free for the public, on registration.

Roundtables and speakers, among others:

Memory, trauma and transformation

hosted by Sue Mobleylead researcher, Monument Lab, with:

–  Daniela Schiller, professeure de neuroscience et de psychiatrie, Icahn School of Medicine,

–  Mabel Wilson, Professor of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columbia University,

Confronting art and history

hosted by Ken Lumconservation consultant and co-founder, Monument Lab, with:

–  Teju Cole, author, new York Magazine critic, Harvard professor

–  Mirjam Zadoff,Director of the Documentation Centre on the History of National Socialism,

Memory Month and Events in Montreal

Following the launch of the project and the online conference, the Goethe-Institut and the bpb will present Memory Month,a month-long series of events featuring Monument Lab fellows. These events will take place in several North American cities, including Washington, DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Kansas City, Boston, New York, Toronto, Montreal and Mexico City.

As of October 17, 2020


Augmented reality project and interactive experience

with Quentin VerCetty

in collaboration with Never Apart

Intervention and reflection onpublic space proposed by The Canadian multidisciplinary artist and Monument Lab fellow, Quentin VerCetty, a graduate student at Concordia University. The artist, who has just won a public art competition in the City of Toronto to create a sculpture honoring the memory of abolitionist and former slave Joshua Glover, will present his virtual and interactive projectMissing Black Technofossil Here. This work examines the missing, erased and untold memories and stories of Black African Canadians whose stories and data are not visible in Montreal’s public spaces and monuments. The project will exhibit works from imaginary and digital monuments by local, past and present Black Canadian leaders in futuristic community spaces.

October 31, 2020


Meet the artists and take an online workshop

avec Alisha Wormsley et Suzanne Kite

in collaboration with Never Apart

Free for the public, by registration.

In this era of uprisings, political conflicts and global recognition of white supremacy, we see monuments falling and ideas formed. How can we make the necessary changes to move forward without having time to dream collectively? — To answer this question, multidisciplinary artists Suzanne Kite and Alisha Wormsley will present to the public their practice of community collective dreaming as a way to shape the past by daring to carve the future. This event, which will take place in the form of a discussion and workshop, will take place online on October 31, 2020 and will focus on healing and dreaming work as an artistic and activist practice to strengthen communities, and as a revolutionary act to bring about societal change.

Exhibition and publication

In 2021, the partners will present an exhibition in North America and Germany bringing together the works of the fellows and the exploration of innovative approaches to the culture of memory. The Montreal exhibition will be presented in collaboration with Never Apart, a multi-disciplinary creative space rooted in Mile End and Montreal’s cultural landscape.This exhibition will then be presented in a multilingual book documenting the conversations and transnational ideas that have been developed around public memory as envisaged by the artists, activists and other collaborators involved in the project. The book will be co-edited by Paul M. Farber and Patricia Eunji Kim of Monument Lab.

Goethe Institute

1626 Blvd. St. Lawrence

514-499-0159 / info@montreal.goethe.org


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