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Monuments for a New Era

A year ago, torch-carrying white nationalists who opposed a plan to remove a statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville, Va., city park convened for a “Unite the Right” rally, where a participant killed a counterprotester. After the tragedy, that statue and another honoring Stonewall Jackson were shrouded, but only temporarily. Around the country, similar monuments have been removed. In some cases, only their pedestals remain.

We asked artists to contemplate these markers of our country’s racist and violent history — the space they take up, physically and psychically — and imagine what should happen when they are gone.

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Ekene Ijeoma's Deconstructed Anthems

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Deconstructed Anthems at the Day for Night festival.

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Emmy-winning pianist Kris Bowers, Blue-note recording artist/trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and Grammy-nominated bassist Burniss Earl Travis perform Deconstructed Anthems.

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Burniss Earl Travis

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Ambrose Akinmusire

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Deconstructed Anthems is an ongoing series of music performances and light installations in which a self-playing piano and music ensemble deconstruct the Star-Spangled Banner, repeating it multiple times, removing notes at the rate of mass incarceration, and ending in silence. 

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