When it comes to a COVID-19 monument, Cooke proposes an “unmonument” instead, one that samples from Black Lives Matter and other protest movements and spreads their DNA like a different kind of virus. “It first attacks our memorials to false leaders, then real ones, then attacks the monuments of capitalism and consumerism and industries too weak to resist,” Cooke wrote in a statement.
It would start at the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond, Virginia—a statue that graffiti and chalk have already redecorated. Rather than tear down the statue, Cooke wants to repurpose it. He would erect scaffolding around it, along with fencing and barricades, materials often used to stave off vandalism. Once installed, visitors would add elements atop: photographs, keepsakes, or other reminders of people affected by the pandemic—or by unchecked police violence, or by the neglect of declining economic outcomes.
From there, the memorial would expand to other locations, feeding off of other, even more hallowed sites of tribute, culture, and commerce. The Lincoln Memorial, perhaps, or even Times Square, although the design could take root anywhere; Cooke is more interested in facilitating its natural growth than prescribing sites in advance. He likens the process to erosion, wearing away the significance of these older structures. “Their histories are tainted,” Cooke said. As a result of his intervention, he hopes these monuments, and monuments in general, would cease to honor existing structures of power. True to the spirit of hip-hop, a statue, a memorial, a block, a whole district become materials to be remixed anew.
This was a helpful piece in understanding ‘hip-hop as a process’. I guess this is how Autechre is ‘hip-hop‘, because of the process.