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Rituals of Commemoration 

Miami Art Week 2021

 

About the work

Breaking down the silos between peoples and cultures and expanding opportunities to engage with authentic, real-world issues, Rituals of Commemoration  is the culmination of seven years of work. What began as a gesture of anger and disbelief at the police murder of Michael Brown in 2014 developed into focused research, examination, and inquiry. The Washington Post and other non-governmental databases such as Fatal Encounters, Mapping Police Violence and The Counted record every fatal shooting in the United States by a police officer in the line of duty. Since January 2015, police have shot and killed 6,732 people in the United States. Although half of these people are white, Black Americans are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans. Latinos, Native and Indigenous people are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.

How to visualize such injustice?

This installation focuses on documenting Black lives lost to police murders from 1979 to December 2021, a sadly ongoing work. The sculpture installation serves as a space holder, a memory legacy. It seeks to ensure that the names and lives of Black men, women and youth killed by police will not be forgotten. It insists on the dignity of these lost lives. It demands respect by creating a physical space of remembrance, a symbolic acknowledgement of a hard past and painful present.

As one comes upon the physical space of remembrance, there are five columns. These are made up of 600 painted and inscribed bricks, 1,555 lives of Black men, women and youth lost up to this point. As one gets closer, some of names and dates begin to spark curiosity and an uneasy familiarity.

This is not intended as only an aesthetic, passive object. It is a starting place for asking questions about our assumptions regarding history, culture, and the consequences of systems of oppression, educational systems, and social justice. The artist challenges audiences of all ages, abilities, orientations, and cultural backgrounds to engage in brave and expansive conversations of issues relevant to their lives.

 

While differing views may sometimes raise discomfort and dissent, this work wants to be a conduit for open sharing and learning. It hopes to inspire partnerships within cultural, educational, and learning institutions that will result in civic action and encourage citizen participation and activism locally, nationally, and internationally.

 

                     

“Through art and a continual cycle of education and engagement, I hope that we can build and maintain meaningful relationships among different communities and can move from learning about justice to creating it.”    

“The humble brick: its origin, earth, water, fire, it’s done!

It is connected to PLACE…a material that connects the human race dating back millennia.

The brick, more than just a simple planar surface, it can have dimension, texture, and rhythm.

It is economical, austere, but can create patterns on a simple wall.

With the passage of time, the brick ages with dignity.

I too consider the brick a symbol of life".

Rosa Naday Garmendia