Unsung Heroines: Absent Monuments
100 YEARS | 100 WOMEN The Park Avenue Armory
Virtually Installed All Over The World
During a time where public spaces have become problematized and politicized, Unsung Heroines engages the public in a virtual monument project honoring women who deserve to be celebrated for their unrecognized historic, contemporary, global, or local contributions. Inspired by the centennial of the 19th Amendment, Rose DeSiano’s first virtual monument has been erected in honor of African American leader Augusta T. Chissell, feminist Victoria Woodhull, abolitionist Sarah Parker Remond, and Italian American suffragist Rosa Finnochietti Levis—all who championed a voting revolution. Virtually installed in Arlington National Cemetery, across from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, this physical mirroring memorializes the endless number of unknown women who continue the work required to ensure the right to vote for all women regardless of class or race.
Reframing her ongoing public sculpture series Absent Monuments, DeSiano has created an interactive web space that invites viewers to create their own monuments dedicated to their own unsung heroines and have it installed in a relevant location of their choice. Visitors upload photographic portraits that are then mapped onto a 3D rendering of an obelisk. These custom monuments are then virtually installed in public space all over the world. When completed, each monument is added to an invaluable online photo archive celebrating women, while educating ourselves on their unsung value.
As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, ravaging the US and my hometown NYC. I along with 1,000’s of others, was forced to reconsider public spaces, safety, and social interactions, all of which forced us to reckon with the race, class, and gender inequalities that are built into the fabric of our nation.
Attempting to avoid highly trafficked public spaces during the height of the NYC pandemic, I spent the spring teaching my 1-year old son to walk in our local cemetery Greenwood, where my Grandparents are buried and where my parents and myself will also be laid to rest. Surrounded by breathtaking sculptures, soaring obelisks, and grand monuments dedicated to some of the more well-known men of New York City's history—I became fascinated by the “wife of” and "daughter of" headstones... Who are these women? What were their contributions? and why don’t they have their own monuments?