ABSENT MONUMEnts

BrookLyn WaterFRONT

Brooklyn Bridge Park, DUMBO NYC

Photoville 

15’ H x 32” W each unit 

Stainless steel mirror, zinc metal base, porcelain photo-tiles

2019

Absent Monuments consists of several mirrored obelisks installed on the historic grounds Brooklyn Bridge Park, NYC. Towering fifteen in feet in the air, these sculptures function both as markers of history and modern-day monuments upholding the people of Brooklyn - today. As viewers inspect the historic photographic scenes of the obelisks plinths, they are reflected in the mirrored obelisk’s toppers, becoming part of the artwork just as they are a part of the land's history. 

 

Why this tall pointy form? What does it mean? 
The Obelisk shape is made of two parts the “plinth” base and the “pyramidion” topper. Paying respect to in-part of local Brooklyn heritage, this form originated in Africa. 

Ancient Egyptians used these shapes to honor their leaders, they were later adopted by Europeans - used by the Romans to celebrate military victories, and then continuing into the 19th century appearing as elite grave-makers in the United States.

 

Why Blue and White Photo Tiles?
The obelisks’ plinths (bases) feature blue and white photographic tiles that display the history of the surrounding area.  The tile and color choice is a reference to famous Delft tiles used by the Dutch settlers of Brooklyn, the original colonizers of the area part of "New Amsterdam" 17th-century settlement. 

 

 

Why Floral Pattern Tiles? 
The floral patterns bordering each photographic scene reference the beadwork and textile patterns of the many Native American tribes of New York. Honoring their complex history and role as the true founders of the United States.

 

Where do these photographs come from?
The photographs on the tiles are collages of both archival photographs from the late 1800s,1900s and new photographs taken by the artist Rose DeSiano today. 10000s of old photographs can be seen for free online at  NYC Public Library Photos, Library of Congress, and, Naval History and Heritage Command, among others. 

 

What do all the photographs mean? 
Each scene references a different time and part of the landscape's history. Brooklyn waterfront complex history of colonization, war, feminism, abolitionism, trade, immigration, labor laws and industrialization.

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Slavery Ending in NYC and Redhook's Atlantic Basin

Caesar, in 1850 who believed to have been the very last slave manumitted in New York State, is shown opposite Famous African American Frederick Douglass; former slave turned abolitionist and brilliant orator, who delivered speeches in and round Brooklyn. In between them an image of the Atlantic basin in Redhook -  the site of the last American slave ship “Erie” put up to auction in 1860 by Abraham Lincoln as a demonstration to what happens to the illegal slave trade in the United States.