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03. Museum of Slavery

2003, Mastermind Magazine

Slavery is not an event of the past. To only present ‘slavery’ as a part of America’s past history is to ignore the fact that it still occurs today, not only in foreign countries but in the U.S. as well. Slavery is not just a form of imprisonment based on a seemingly archaic concept of human ownership, but it is one which is instigated and perpetuated through the tease of false promises. Indeed, it has been estimated by the CIA that approximately 50,000 people are still trafficked as sex slaves, domestics, garment, and agricultural slaves. This project therefore seeks to define the American Museum of Slavery as a kind of institution which does not neatly package ‘slavery’ into a succinct archive, but rather, intersects the display of historical artifacts with the events of the present. In particular, this project questions the issue of Visibility: Are museums in general readily visible to the common tourist’s eye? In contrast to the neatly packaged museum, this proposal makes itself visible by disrupting the current conditions — formal and touristic — of the Washington Mall. This proposal asks: Can the past be more poignantly remembered if they are jolted from their historical continuum?