For decades, a seemingly innocuous metal plate that was screwed into a marble wall hung above a public drinking fountain in the Dallas County Records Building.
One day in 2003, it fell off.
A public outcry ensued as people learned what that metal plate was meant to cover up: traces of a White Only sign that was removed during desegregation.
The metal plate inadvertently preserved a memory that it was meant to help erase...
Fountains is a multi-media public art project for Dallas County created by lauren woods in 3 parts: a video sculpture/monument, curated public programs, and an interactive website.
A working public water fountain at the Dallas County Records Building triggers a projection of digitally-altered newsreel footage of 1960s civil rights protests under the remains of a Jim Crow White Only sign that was rediscovered in 2003. Visitors to the building unknowingly initiate this meditation on history, heroism, civic duty and social change as they attempt to drink from the fountain. Upon activation, the water flow is suspended for the duration of a 15-second video, allowing one to drink only after it ends. The sculpture is accessible to the public during normal operating hours of the building.
Public Programs/Youth Workshop:
With the unveiling of the monument, a series of free public programs will run in collaboration with local partners. “Brown bag” lunches on-site at the Records Building, targeted towards visitors and employees, aim to reactivate the civic space by providing a platform for dialogical exchange. Public programs off-site, at arts/humanities and community centers, will correspond with strategic dates in national and international history to examine multi-national/ethnic movements and struggles for human rights and their modern implications. A youth-centric workshop that looks at the intersection of contemporary art, politics, and education will be developed and made available to an existing network of local schools and creative community institutions. The workshop puts forth objectives that serve to envision how a work of art can facilitate young people’s education, participation in their community, and make possible their input into the forces that affect their everyday lives as young citizens.
To extend the idea of civic engagement and meditation on collective memory present at the physical site, a new website will be launched. This virtual space serves as a bridge from a local to an international audience who wish to join the discussion, archiving other sites of similar discovery and contested public memory.
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