Los Angeles Times — "Goodbye, Guy on a Horse. A New Wave of Monument Design Is Changing How We Honor History"

Stone Stories



"Expanding the aesthetic language of monuments is something that many designers have been working on.

Chicago architect Jeanne Gang and her firm, Studio Gang, have spent several years on design concepts for the Mississippi waterfront in Memphis. The six-mile site includes Cobblestone Landing, built in the 19th century to serve as an important port for cotton — a trade built on the labor of the enslaved. There have been ongoing discussions about how a site like this might be memorialized.

'It was an almost horizontal monument,' Gang says of the landing, 'a place that could also somehow represent democracy and the people, and not have a figural statue standing on it.' Her firm explored this idea for the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale in an installation titled 'Stone Stories.' Hundreds of cobblestones were assembled on the floor of the U.S. pavilion, accompanied by a wall piece that showed how stones might be shaped to tell individual stories — carved into the form of a hand or embedded with the relief of a ship.

'We wanted to integrate voices and memories into that space,' Gang says. 'We started collecting the stories of people from different aspects of the community: an artist, a musician, a patron of the arts, a mayor, a chef. ... From the designer’s standpoint, the question was: Could we embed their stories into the material — into the stone.'

At the core of the conceptual piece — intended to prompt a dialogue about making a remembrance of a site such as Cobblestone Landing feel more contemporary, less 19th century — is community involvement. That’s a critical component in how monuments are now being designed and built."

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Metropolis — “At the Venice Biennale, Jeanne Gang Uses Memphis’s Cobblestones to Reflect on Monuments and Messy Civic Histories”

Metropolis — "At the Venice Biennale, Jeanne Gang Uses Memphis’s Cobblestones to Reflect on Monuments and Messy Civic Histories"

Zach Mortice pens an in-depth feature on the ideas and process behind Studio Gang’s Stone Stories installation for the US Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Biennale in Venice.

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New York Times — “Creators of Architectural Exhibits Reach to the Cosmos for Inspiration”

Studio Gang’s Stone Stories installation is profiled along with the six other projects that make up Dimensions of Citizenship, this year’s US Pavilion exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Biennale in Venice.

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WTTW — "Artists, Architects Reimagine the Possibilities of Design in ‘Dimensions of Citizenship’"

"All of these hundreds of cobblestones that came from Memphis, then to Venice, now here to Chicago, are weighted. They’re weighted with history ... it’s about bringing sort of a renewed interest into this material object."

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