Not Set in Stone: Public Art in Urban Space
Not Set in Stone: Public Art in Urban Space Sep 21

Not Set in Stone: Public Art in Urban Space

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What’s the future of urban monuments? How can art transform the connections between memory, race and colonialism that haunt urban spaces?

Gary Younge hosts a roundtable discussion with three outstanding international artists-activists whose work engages with the afterlives of monuments, silenced histories and the decolonisation of urban space: Jeannette Ehlers, Roberto Cayuqueo Martínez and Quinsy Gario.

This event explores the reimagination of urban landscapes in times of social and political change. In recent years, movements such as Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall have re-occupied urban spaces in which injustices and inequalities are built into the very fabric of the city. Their actions have often used art and activism to foreground suppressed narratives or address historical legacies. Through a focus on art practice, this roundtable will question how historical memorializations to slavery or colonialism could, through forms of struggle and action, also become sites for decolonial remembering and imagining alternative futures.

Jeannette Ehlers is a Copenhagen-based artist of Danish and Trinidadian descent whose practice moves across photography, video, installation, sculpture and performance. Her work often brings about decolonial hauntings and disruptions and she insists on the possibility for empowerment and healing in her art, honouring legacies of resistance in the African diaspora. in 2022, Ehlers was shortlisted to create a national monument to The Windrush Generation at Waterloo Station.

Roberto Cayuqueo Martínez is a Mapuche performance artist and theatre director from Santiago de Chile. His practice engages with political imagination, collective memory through site-specific theatre and performance. Recent work has used collaborative critical cartography and storytelling techniques to foreground invisibilized histories of indigenous Mapuche in urban Chile.

Quinsy Gario is a visual and performance artist and activist from the Caribbean islands that have Dutch colonization in common. He focuses on decolonial remembering and the actions that that remembering can engender. One of his most well-known works, Zwarte Piet Is Racisme (2011–2012), critiqued public knowledge surrounding the racist Dutch figure and practice of Zwarte Piet (Black Pete).

Gary Younge is an author, broadcaster and a professor of sociology at the University of Manchester. His recent project examined how the resurgence of Black Lives Matter in 2020 ignited a global debate on the memorialising of histories of slavery and colonialism, and explored what happens when statues are removed. He was formerly a columnist and editor-at-large at The Guardian. His most recent book is Another Day in the Death of America.

After the roundtable, there will be a reception in the Whitworth south gallery, and an opportunity to see footage of the artists' recent work.


Dr Olivia Casagrande, University of Sheffield

Dr Constance Smith, University of Manchester

Dr Meghan Tinsley, University of Manchester

Prof Gary Younge, University of Manchester

This event is part of the workshop 'Afterlives of Monuments and Alternative Urban Futures' held at the School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester. It is supported by the University of Manchester Research Collaboration fund, and as part of the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship project ‘Tower Block Futures: High-Rise Lives and Global Urbanism’. For more information, please contact

21-Sep-2022 - 18:15 Start date
21-Sep-2022 - 20:15 End date
Oxford Road, Manchester, M15 6ER
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