Charleston’s Commission on History will consider a request Wednesday from a Los Angeles-based art curator to send the statue of John C. Calhoun that formerly stood in Marion Square to the West Coast for a 2022 exhibition at L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA).
In a June 3 letter, co-curator Hamza Walker detailed the premise of the exhibit, which would bring together a number of “recently decommissioned” statues like Calhoun’s, alongside new works of art commissioned and inspired by the monuments to continue discussions around “reparations, healing, and a greater reckoning with America’s past,” he said.
Walker, who is director of LAXART, a nonprofit visual art space in Los Angeles and is curating the exhibit tentatively called MONUMENTS, said officials in Baltimore have agreed to lend four statues. Discussions are in also progress with leaders at the University of Texas, and requests have also been made in Richmond and Durham. Walker did not respond to an email from the City Paper by publication time.
The collection would be assembled “in order to confront and challenge long-held beliefs about the real people behind these inanimate objects and the ways in which we can build a roadmap forward,” Walker wrote in his letter addressed to Mayor John Tecklenburg.
The exhibition is slated to open at the MOCA in fall 2022, but that date could change due to COVID restrictions. Other details aren’t know at this point.
Private donations through LAXART and other grants would cover the costs of transporting the 6,000-pound, 12-foot-tall bronze statue, Walker wrote. Curators have retained Chicago-based Methods & Materials, Inc. to handle shipping and logistics, he said.
Once the 14-member Commission on History considers the proposal from the curators, its decision will be passed on to City Council, chairman Harlan Greene told the City Paper Tuesday morning.
The statue, originally erected in 1896, was removed by crews in 2020 at the direction of Charleston City Council. Since then, it has sat in storage.
The commission is set to meet via conference call Wednesday at 4 p.m., according to a published agenda. To join the meeting, call 929-205-6099. The meeting ID is 812 7172 2592.