Society's Cage—A Statement on the Forces of Systemic Racism

Society's Cage—A Statement on the Forces of Systemic Racism

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Society’s Cage is a timely interpretive installation born in the aftermath of the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders as our society reckons with institutional racism and white supremacy. The initial installation, August 28 - September 4, 2020, coincides with the March on Washington in support of Black Lives, being held in Washington, DC, and will be located on the National Mall at 12th Street and Madison Drive NW. The public installation features a bold interpretive pavilion sculpted to symbolize the historic forces of racial state violence that was conceived in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement as a mechanism for building empathy and healing. 

The pavilion is created using a series of bars, which are hung to form a cube with a cavernous void that symbolizes our imperfect society and justice system. The void is shaped by historical data and serves as a visual metaphor to represent the primary institutional forces of racism that embody the Black American experience. Wrapping the edifice of Society’s Cage is an interpretive educational experience about racist lynchings, police terrorism, mass incarceration and capital punishment as the primary institutional structures of anti-Black state violence. Visitors are also directed to find additional educational resources through QR codes. 

Inside the pavilion is an opportunity to participate in a universal exercise of holding one’s breath for as long as one can. This exercise is inspired by the indignities performed on George Floyd in the 8:46 in which his life was tragically and unnecessarily stolen. The visitor is then encouraged to record a video on their own smartphone state how long they were able to hold their breath and provide brief reflections to upload to a social media platform with a unique hashtag specific to this installation.

Financial donations are needed to make the pavilion a reality. Help uplift the voices of Black designers and advocate for racial justice with SmithGroup and the Architects Foundation; find out moreand donate, here.

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