What are Alternative Monuments?

Confederate Monuments. These words grow increasingly problematic and with good reason. Protests in city squares and on university campuses demonstrate the crisis surrounding Confederate monuments and their contentious existence.

Alternative Monuments are performative monuments that add to the national conversation surrounding Confederate Monuments. Our monuments are productive because they neither affirm nor condemn traditional Confederate monuments; instead, our monuments add to the country’s overall narrative about the Civil War. Our exhibition consists of three vignettes: 1. Henry “Box” Brown’s unboxing with a box built according to historic specification; 2. Thirty feet of moving panoramic murals depicting the actual scenes commissioned by Brown and drawn by Charles C. Green. (The moving panorama is powered by a hand-crank which can be turned readily should attendees desire to interact with the exhibit.); and 3. A tableau vivant of Ellen Craft’s famous engraving depicting the costume she wore when she and husband, William, escaped from the plantation they were enslaved on in Macon, GA.

Performative monuments are commemorative works of performance art that rely on monumental aesthetics. We blend elements from the classical monument genre with live actors to encourage participation from attendees. Alternative monuments’ spectators become agents within the exhibit by participating in the exchange of artistic expression and historical information.

Student reads about Henry “Box” Brown at the Alternative Monuments Spring Exhibition 2019 in the President’s Club Garden at the University of Georgia.

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