Natia Kapanadze | Shekere
Dongzhe Tao | The Box of Henry Brown
Virginia Eckinger | Capitalism + Privilege
John Whitaker | 32 Trees
Lauren McDaniel | Sewing a Revolution
Simiya Sudduth | Long Straight Hai
Qinyi Li | Boat
Magnus Danielle | Iron Collar
As American landscape study today attests, the American landscape is historically, and presently, a relationship with slavery and racism. This translates, as Dr. Adrienne Davis’s research into Restorative Justice, in terms of economy, into a terrifying history of labor injustice. The landscape is not inert and was not a neutral medium in which these injustices played out. Landscape was weaponized.
How do designers today represent living landscapes and the living systems landscapes support? What is representation? The “Eco” part of “Ecology” stems from “Oikos,” or home. Home is the logic of our economies and our life systems. Learning in landscape architecture today at Washington University takes place through the critical lens of social engagement and local partnerships. In this way, education is more in-person rather than in-principle. Landscape Architecture seminar “Visualizing Ecological Processes” in the Fall of 2018 attempted, as best it could, to acknowledge and understand how our American history of social injustice plays itself out in the landscapes that materialize around us. The Homeland. In the securities and insecurities of land.
“Legend Objects” response to this landscape catastrophe, however, is to recognize the power and history of love and life, which also share roots in these lush Midwestern St. Louis landscapes and Heartlands. To work with The Griot Museum of Black History is to evolve one’s artistic instruments while sharpening one’s critical weapons. What makes an object a Legend? What is a Legend? Aretha Franklin had just passed when this class was working on these videos. Talks of what constitutes a Legend were in the air.
Institutions like The Griot Museum of Black History grant Objects the power to keep orienting themselves in our lives. These Objects get in our way, and they need to. They draw us towards themselves and smack us back at the same time. They remind us that they are not only in the past these Objects are also waiting for us in our futures and our children’s futures too. To be polished with thought. To attend to. They are eidetic totems and teachers—when we approach them with the attention they ask for. In lifting up a few Objects from the Griot Museums collection and spending time with those objects, we learned as we questioned them how to listen to the questions they asked us back.
These videos are an attempt to materialize those dialogues. Through this design process, we polish reflections that allow us to better see ourselves. The videos in this one-time-only event are an attempt to make a few objects shine. Give them their due.
Special thanks to:
Lois Conley, Founder and Executive Director of The Griot Museum of Black History partnered with
Eric Ellingsen and the class, providing space, time, and stories, in-kind.
St Louis filmmaker Orlando Vicente II, PB Films, who joined for a morning workshop “on working with light and lenses”.
Skye Lacerte and Mitchell Jr., Vernon, curators at the Modern Graphic History Library Curator at Washington University,
for the tour andconversation.