“The Stonewall riots (also referred to as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion) were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the gay (LGBT) community[note 1] against a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. They are widely considered to constitute the most important event leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. …The events that took place at the Stonewall Inn led to the first gay pride parades in the United States and in many other countries. On June 28, 1970, a march was led from Greenwich Village to the Sheep Meadow in Central Park”
About the artwork on the spot The Gay Liberation Monument (1992) is a monument with a statue of Gay Liberation by the artist George Segal (1924 – 2000). The park with the monument is located in the Greenwich Village area of New York. Segal’s monument is within the nationally registered Stonewall National Monument which includes Christopher Street and Christopher Park opposite the Stonewall Inn which was the bar where the rebellion began. The uprising was about the police raiding raids against gay bars to get bribes on scattering permits
There are four figures representing a pair of men and a couple of women. The sculptures have a white surface similar to plaster. Couple of women sitting on a bench and couple of men standing up. Both couples hold each other together in a tender and close relationship. Shows an everyday scene.
The sculptures are made of bronze and white-lacquered. They were plaster casts of people They were cast already in 1980 but were not allowed to be the first in New York. Only in 1992 were they moved to New York and were inaugurated as part of the monument. Inscription: GAY LIBERATION / BY / GEORGE SEGAL / BRONZE CAST – 1980 / DEDICATED – 1992 / — / GIFT OF THE MILDRED ANDREWS FUND / TO THE CITY OF NEW YORK /
Segal figures tell of a scene that looks like everyday life played on a quiet day in the park as in a tableaux scene. The white color gives a kind of spooky and melancholy expression and they have some kind of anonymity. There is criticism of the choice of artist because George Segal is heterosexual and not LGBT.
How can this work broaden the discourse on memory and history?
Are they excessive stereotypes like the artist’s Kara Walker? The monument is called Gay Liberation, which associates Stonewall with the gay fight for rights to be publicly visible and protected with the same rights in society. During this time in the 80s and early 90s, transgender people were not integrated into the LGBT movement which was only talked about as Gay & Lesbian. The four figures are white and look like middle class.
Stonewall rebellion led by the people most harassed by the police; the colored transgender people at the bar. The two most famous were the black transgender Marsha P. Jonsson 25 years who performed there at the bar as a drag artist and the Puerto Rican transgender Silvia Rivera 17 years. Marscha who were the first to attack a police car at the bar would later be murdered in 1992 (Wikipedia, Marsha P. Johnson). But in 1973, Silvia had spoken in Washington Square Parc where she accused the gay movement of being racist, excluded and transphobic (Wikipedia, Sylvia Rivera). Everyday life for transgender people was full of violence, abuse, police brutality, prison and poverty shown in the documentary Major! (2014).
But immediately after the uprising, transgender people of the larger minority homosexuals were not accepted at demonstrations, but they had to wait until the year 2000 to be accepted in the LGBT narrative. Instead, the myth of the homosexuals created that they themselves led the Stonewall uprising. It is this memory and historiography that Segal uses in the same way as the artist Eleanor Antin’s mother’s memory of Vilnius; romanticized, embellished and fictitious.
Here it turns out how complex our personal memories work. Interactive memory that is socialized with others and influences how our history writing is constructed at different levels both through selection and mythology. Some stereotypes are created to create our new visions of society and other people who have contributed to art, philosophy and culture may be omitted entirely for creating the new visions? Much like when a perched stone statue of an unwanted female pharaoh is sentenced to oblivion? We can all lack memory pictures we have never had? A sense of emptiness that is greater than the rational? Over time, can we all learn to coexist?
Kalb R. Peter (2013), Art since 1980: Charting the contemporary, Laurence King Publishing:London.
Gay Liberation Monument
[Accessed 28/06/19]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gay_Liberation_Monument