Today the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and Santa Monica-based Snap Inc. debuted the kick-off collection of virtual monuments and murals developed as part of LACMA × Snapchat: Monumental Perspectives. The multi-year augmented reality-based public art initiative fosters collaboration between local artists and technologists to tell untold stories and share the unshared histories of a number of communities across L.A. This first round of monuments, viewable starting today through Shapchat, were launched to coincide with the International Day for Monuments and Sites on April 18, when LACMA and Snap will also commence an associated digital programming series through the end of June.
The virtual installations were specifically designed to be viewed on Snapchat at five different sites: the LACMA campus in L.A.’s Miracle Mile neighborhood, MacArthur Park in Central L.A.’s Westlake district, the newly revamped Magic Johnson Park in Willowbrook, and the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in South L.A.’s Exposition Park. However, the monuments can also be viewed by anyone regardless of their geographic locale by visiting this page on their mobile devices.
(LACMA reopened on April 1 for non-virtual visits with an advanced timed ticking system and health screenings/temperature checks in place.)
The program was first announced last December along with its inaugural participating artists: I.R. Bach, Mercedes Dorame, Glenn Kaino, Ruben Ochoa, and Ada Pinkston. In February, Monumental Perspectives was named as one of five inaugural grantees under the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s $250 million Monuments Project grant-making initiative. Monumental Perspectives received $1.2 million in funding for the further development and expansion of the program. In addition to bringing together artists and technologists from Snap’s Lens Creator community, the program also engages community stakeholders and historians to examine “key moments and figures in the region’s past and present that have too often been overlooked” per LACMA.
“The virtual monuments and murals that these five artists have created illuminate how we can reimagine and rebuild commemorative spaces across the country, and embodies the visionary work we aim to support through The Monuments Project,” said Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Mellon Foundation, in a news release. “Like these immersive commemorations, we’re excited to see more artists using innovative means—beyond bronze and stone—to memorialize historical figures, ideas, and movements, and to recontextualize existing monuments that teach too little of our collective history in public spaces.”
Below are each of the five first works created as part of Monumental Perspectives. In addition to their respective artists and exact locations, also included is a brief description of each work as provided by LACMA.
I.R. Bach: Think Big, 2021
Think Big may be experienced at Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park (905 E. El Segundo Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90059) or from anywhere.
“I.R. Bach’s approach to what constitutes a monument differs from its conventional definition. A simple action such as moving through the park may turn into an experience worth memorializing. Through larger-than-life animations, a whimsical soundtrack, and a guiding basketball, Think Big crafts an experience designed to inspire self-reflection as you proceed. “The aspiration is to collectively build an invisible monument of thought.” I.R. Bach encourages users to playfully consider the phrase, ‘See yourself in others and others in you.’ Think Big is ideally enjoyed in the park but is available everywhere on a smaller scale with fewer stops. The original soundtrack was composed by the artist and features special guest Dwight Trible.”
Mercedes Dorame: Portal for Tovaangar, 2021
Portal for Tovaangar may be experienced at LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036) or from anywhere.
“Working in landscapes she feels anchored to, Mercedes Dorame reclaims connection to the land and ancestral knowledge by exploring what it means to exist as a Native inhabitant of contemporary Tovaangar (Los Angeles). Portal for Tovaangar creates an immersive portal that links past, present, and potential future worlds. Viewers engage with what continues to inspire many Native people: the sky, the land, indigenous plant life, celestial bodies, and the infinite ability to connect to these entities and with each other. This work proposes a community healing opportunity, an exploration of truth in understanding Indigenous intrinsic knowledge, and reconciliation. Portal for Tovaangar shifts away from memorializing heroes and singular events to engage the continued and future presence of Native people in this city. The song included in the piece is inspired by a 1918 wax cylinder recording of Tongva singing.”
Glenn Kaino: No Finish Line, 2021
No Finish Line may be experienced at Christmas Tree Lane Park (within Exposition Park) near the entrance of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (3911 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90037), at Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park (905 E. El Segundo Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90059), or from anywhere.
“No Finish Line centers generational stories from the communities, businesses, and organizations along the 1932 L.A. Olympic marathon route, which started and ended at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. This conceptual project highlights how the stories of daily life come together to make history. A narrative thread connects generations of people, businesses, and organizations along the route. The symbolism of a marathon reminds the viewer that the path of history is long, and that making positive change and building an equitable world requires stamina. The memories of the people and places therefore become perpetual and not forgotten: the path of history is a marathon with no finish line. In 2028, Los Angeles will become the only city in the United States to host the Olympic Games three times, invoking memories of Games past and contributing new narratives to the future. Original music composition created in collaboration with DJ Melo-D of the World Famous Beat Junkies.”
(In conjunction with the work, LACMA’s Education Department is producing art kits—complete with large stencils, colored pencils, sidewalk chalk, and dowels—geared to help young artists understand “how stories fit together to accompany No Finish Line.” The kits will be distributed every weekend in June through artist Lauren Halsey’s food distribution initiative in South Central L.A. Digital versions are also available here.)
Ruben Ochoa: ¡Vendedores, Presente!, 2021
¡Vendedores, Presente! may be experienced at MacArthur Park (2230 W. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90057) or from anywhere.
“¡Vendedores, Presente! responds to L.A.’s complex history with street vendors. Ruben Ochoa draws from his family history—his mother pioneered a mobile tortilla delivery system in San Diego County—to pay homage to the critical role of street vendors in L.A.’s culture and economy. Referencing familiar forms of street vending, ¡Vendedores, Presente! serves as a multilingual resource for on-the-ground entrepreneurs and a call for advocacy. After a decade-long fight to legalize street vending in L.A., the pandemic has impacted its progress and potential growth, with many street vendors left more vulnerable than ever. ¡Vendedores, Presente! invites participants to learn more about the plight of street vendors and provides options to assist through non-profit organizations Community Power Collective (CPC) and Inclusive Action for the City.”
Ada Pinkston: The Open Hand is Blessed, 2021
The Open Hand is Blessed may be experienced at Earvin “Magic” Johnson Park (905 E. El Segundo Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90059) or from anywhere.
“‘If you hold your hand closed, nothing good can come in. The open hand is blessed, for it gives in abundance, even as it receives.’—Biddy Mason (1818–1891). The Open Hand is Blessed is a memorial series that pays tribute to the voice and spiritual philosophy of Biddy Mason. The story of Mason is one of resilience. In 1851, Mason arrived in San Bernardino, California, after traveling thousands of miles by foot as an enslaved person. After this arduous journey, she settled in Los Angeles and worked as a nurse and midwife. She died a free person and one of the wealthiest Black women in the country. In The Open Hand is Blessed, Ada Pinkston draws from archival images of African American residents in 19th century Los Angeles.”