Cal State Long Beach setting up exhibition on police deaths/African Americans
Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 8/8/2018, 9:47 a.m.
An exhibit being set up at the University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach is scheduled to use unfiltered case documents and recordings of the circumstances around police violence and African Americans, reports the Press Telegraph. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner are just a few of the deaths that will be examined in the display. The official unveiling of the interactive exhibit takes place Sept. 16. It’s called “Monument” and it’s the brainchild of Dallas-based artist Lauren Woods. “Originally, the initial idea started out looking at these different documents and identifying what seems like obvious constructions of Blackness, of Black masculinity,” Woods said. “Things that become sort of reified and materialized in a record that becomes justification of why someone was killed.” The work provides a vehicle to analyze and discuss the complexities of race, violence, structural power and monumentality itself. For law enforcement, it’s also an opportunity to view policing through the lens of African Americans, said Jim Bueermann, retired Redlands police chief and president of the Police Foundation – a national nonprofit that researches policing. “I think this exhibition would be useful to police officers in better understanding how many African Americans view police,” Bueermann said, adding that although it most likely will make officers feel uncomfortable. “I don’t believe you have to like something in order for it to change your perspective, I believe that all of us as human beings – all of our substantial learning comes from going outside of your comfort zone.” Materializing the issue of police violence and African-American deaths into art came as a challenge to Woods, reports the Press Telegram. She turned to a collaborative approach, using the live sounds or readings of transcripts from cases of African Americans who died during police encounters. The idea accumulated into a monument of 25 turntables, each bearing a record that contains sounds tied to cases, in which Woods crafted to capture the essence of the narrative she found in each death. They range from live recordings of the deaths to staged readings of court transcripts. Along with the recordings, there will also be case documents for people to read for themselves.