4.307/8 | Art, Architecture, And Urbanism In Dialogue >>Monument Matters<<

Monument Matters
4.307/8 Art, Architecture and Urbanism in Dialogue   

Synchronous Hours T / TR  10:30AM-12PM
Info Session: Thursday, Sept. 3, 10:30AM
ZOOM Link l Meeting ID 938 1425 9078

Professor: Azra Akšamija | TA:

Units: 3-3-6 U /3-3-6 G I Class limit: 18 I Prerequisites: Permission of instructor

From Birmingham, Alabama to Antwerp, Belgium, the recent removal and defacing of monuments to Confederate and imperialist leaders marks a new wave in our stream of struggles over haunting legacies. Some believe that removing these statues is an attempt to erase or cover up history. For others, it is a means to confront violence, racism, and oppression in history and at present. This advanced course initiates a dialogue between art, architecture, and urbanism by focusing on intellectual debates about and critical interventions on monuments. We will discuss a range of themes related to politics of memory and commemoration, from trauma, iconoclasm, and censorship, over ethics of preservation, to the agency of monuments in relation to colonialism, nationalism, social justice, and democracy.  The research component involves a group work on a “Dictionary of Monument Matters,” through which we will analyze methodologies of practitioners who intertwine these three disciplines in a critical spatial practice addressing traumatic, troubling, or toxic memory.  Lectures, screenings, readings, and discussions with guests and faculty will inform the development of individual projects: a monument or an intervention on an existing site of memory chosen by students.

The course will have a  cross-institutional  exchange with the Aga Khan Museum Toronto exploring multiple perspectives on museum artefacts, as well as the GSD course “Art and Design in the Public Domain” by Krzystof Wodiczko, Professor at Harvard University / Professor Emeritus of MIT’s ACT Program, in the form of panels with faculty and guest artists, as well a peer-to-peer feedback on the work in-progress. The course will be held online entirely, but students based in the Boston/Cambridge area will have an additional option to meet real people in real places (we will have a few outdoor meetings and visits to local monuments, respecting social distancing and masked). Toolkits for home-based studio work will be provided by the ACT Program, depending on the individual need and location. Graduate and undergraduate workload and evaluation criteria vary accordingly.

NOTE: If you are interested in taking this course, please pre-register by Monday, August 31st to be added to MIT Canvas for Zoom invitations, or email Marianna Medrano to be added to our Zoom list.


  • Credit: u 3-3-6, g arranged
  • Schedule: TR 9:00am-12:00pm
    Location: e15-207