Monument Lab: Creative Speculations for Philadelphia (2012–Present)
Artistic Director and Co-Founder
City of Philadelphia


Monument Lab is a public art and history project based in Philadelphia built around a central guiding question: What is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia? This line of inquiry is aimed at building civic dialogue and stoking historical imagination as forces for social change. The Monument Lab team is led by curators Paul M. Farber and Ken Lum, and includes collaborating artists, scholars, researchers, and students.

From September 16–November 19, 2017, the Monument Lab curatorial team and Mural Arts Philadelphia installed temporary prototype monuments by 20 artists across 10 sites in Philadelphia’s iconic public squares and neighborhood parks. These site-specific, socially engaged artworks were presented together with research labs. Over 180,000 people engaged with the labs and project sites at the Barnes Foundation and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and close to 5,000 creative monument proposals were collected from Philadelphians and visitors. The proposals operate as a creative dataset of public speculation: they are transcribed and presented in a searchable interface on the Monument Lab website, will be uploaded to OpenDataPhilly, presented in a final Report the City, and including in a forthcoming publication co-edited by Farber and Lum (Temple University Press).

Artists: Tania Bruguera, Mel Chin, Kara Crombie, Tyree Guyton, Hans Haacke, David Hartt, Sharon Hayes, King Britt and Joshua Mays, KLIP Collective, Duane Linklater, Emeka Ogboh featuring Ursula Rucker, Karyn Olivier, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Kaitlin Pomerantz, RAIR – Recycled Artist in Residency, Alexander Rosenberg, Jamel Shabazz, Hank Willis Thomas, Shira Walinsky and Southeast by Southeast, and Marisa Williamson.

Curatorial Team: Ken Lum, Laurie Allen, A. Will Brown, Matthew Callinan, Kristen Goldschmidt, Liam Hodgson, Maya Thomas, and Corin Wilson.

Lead Monument Lab Partners: City of Philadelphia; Philadelphia Parks & Recreation; Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy; Historic Philadelphia; Independence National Historic Park; Penn Institute for Urban Research; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; Price Lab for Digital Humanities; and the University of Pennsylvania.

Major support for 2017 Monument Lab projects staged in Philadelphia's five squares has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. An expanded artist roster and projects at five neighborhood sites have been made possible by a significant grant from the William Penn Foundation. Additional support has been provided by Hummingbird Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Tuttleman Family Foundation, and more. Support for Monument Lab's final publication provided by the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.

Media partner: WHYY

Link to Project Website.

Link to Download Public Monument Proposals on OpenDataPhilly.

The Wall in Our Heads: American Artists and the Berlin Wall (2014–2015)
Goethe-Institut Washington and Haverford College Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery

  The Wall in Our Heads: American Artists and the Berlin Wall  (Lisa Boughter/CFG Gallery)

The Wall in Our Heads: American Artists and the Berlin Wall (Lisa Boughter/CFG Gallery)

The Wall in Our Heads: American Artists and the Berlin Wall commemorates the twenty-fifth anniversary of the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and reflects on legacies of division in American culture. The exhibition features critical American artistic perspectives of the Berlin Wall from 1961 through the present, including artworks that confront social boundaries in the United States as well as the complex historical crossroads of Berlin.

Artists: Lindy Annis, Alexandra Avakian, Jonathan Borofsky, Chuck D, Frank Hallam Day, Electronic Disturbance Theater 2.0/b.a.n.g. lab, Ron English, Allen Frame, Leonard Freed, Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Oliver Harrington, Carol Highsmith, James Huckenpahler, Allan Kaprow, Farrah Karapetian, Nilay Lawson, Oliver Miller, Adrian Piper, Stephanie Syjuco, Shinkichi Tajiri, Bill Van Parys and Reyes Melendez, and Lawrence Weiner.

Guest Speakers: Michael Kimmelman, Axel Klausmeier, Hope Harrison, Penny Von Eschen, Amber Art Collective, Jessica Solomon, Mark Strandquist, and Shira Walinksy.

Partners: The exhibition was commissioned and first shown at the Goethe-Institut Washington from October 15-December 15, 2014. The Wall in Our Heads later traveled to Haverford College's Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery from October 13-December 13, 2015. Haverford's exhibition and its related programming at Haverford College were made possible with the support of Haverford’s new Initiative in Ethical Engagement and Leadership and the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities. 

The Wall in Our Heads also received generous support from the following institutions: Adrian Piper Research Archive Foundation, Getty Research Institute, Keith Haring Foundation, Library of Congress, Magnum Photos, National Gallery of Art, Provisions Library, and The Wende Museum.

Link to Project Website.

Link to Keynote Conversation with New York Times Architecture Critic Michael Kimmelman.

Link to Student Publication Keywords on Division.

Stephanie Syjuco: American Rubble (Micromonuments) (2014)
Haverford College

 Stephanie Syjuco:  American Rubble  (Photo: Caleb Eckert)

Stephanie Syjuco: American Rubble (Photo: Caleb Eckert)

American Rubble addressed the physical and social transformation occurring in our cities. Encompassing an artist residency, exhibition, and day-long symposium featuring U-C Berkeley Art Professor Stephanie Syjuco, the project engaged issues from the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to contemporary urban redevelopment projects in Philadelphia's post-industrial neighborhoods. Invited artists, scholars, and students considered both how cultural producers document urban change and economic upheaval, and how they might imagine possibilities for collectivity through urgent forms of public memory. Such a framework aimed to measure changes due to historic "events" but also the less tangible undercurrents of gentrification. Throughout the project, we explored how artistic projects and cultural interventions at sites of memory—including those that draw on rubble, ruins, traces, echoes, memes, and remixes—critically empower a history of the present.

Artists/Scholars: Stephanie Syjuco, Joshua Clover, Susanne Slavick, Salamishah Tillet, and Camilo José Vergara.

Partners: Support for American Rubble was provided by the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Mellon Creative Residencies Program.

Link to Project Website.

Link to American Rubble Documentary

In/Out Symposium (2015–2017)
Co-Convener (With Daniel Tucker)
Moore College of Art & Design and Mural Arts Philadelphia

 In/Out Symposium (Photo: Steve Weinik)

In/Out Symposium (Photo: Steve Weinik)

The In/Out Symposium is a three-part, annual series focused on contemporary issues in socially-engaged art. Presented by Mural Arts Philadelphia and Moore’s Graduate Social & Studio Practices department, this two day-long symposium focused on selected case studies from local, national and international contexts that that highlight this field from multiple perspectives. The three respective themes include: Time, Pacing, and Perspective (2015); Ethics, Attention and Intention (2016); and Scale, Inclusion, and Equity (2017).

Artists/Scholars/Sites (2015): Rick Lowe, Walidah Imarisha, Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, Immigrant Movement International, Corona (Queens, New York City), Neighborhood Time Exchange, the Village of Arts and Humanities, Asian Arts Initiative, Helen Haynes, Denise Brown, Aaron Levy, Shira Walinsky, and Selina Morales.

Artists/Scholars/Sites (2016):  A Long Walk Home’s Girl/Friends, Erika Almiron, Eastern State Penitentiary, Jane Ursula Harris, Marline Johnson, Sean Kelley, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Louise Pilar Martorano, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Patricia Phillips, Michael Rakowitz, Anthony Romero, Lucia Sanroman, Southeast by Southeast, Southwest Roots: Bartram’s Garden and Mural Arts, Nato Thompson, Salamishah Tillet, Scheherazade Tillet, Jonathan Wallis, Dan S. Wang, West Philadelphia with Philadelphia LISC (including Spiral Q, Tiny WPA and PEC CDC), Risë Wilson, Marion Wilson

Artists/Scholars/Sites (2017): Roberto Bedoya, Not an Alternative’s The Natural History Museum, Jane Golden and Patti Phillips, Russell Craig, Jesse Krimes, Dawan Williams, Parris Stancell, Al Tull, Taller Puertorriqueño, Philadelphia History Truck, Mural Arts Philadelphia projects from the Porch Light, Restorative Justice programs, and the "Long Haul" – Students in dialogue with Community Arts Organizations in operation for more than 25 Years across Philadelphia: Taller Puertorriqueño, Asian Arts Initiative, Village of Arts & Humanities, Painted Bride, and Fleisher Art Memorial.

Link to Symposia Website.