KIM CURTIS | Harvest


Since the 2017 Charlottesville protests and subsequent removal of confederate monuments, we as a country have been forced to reckon with what we choose to commemorate. Often overlooked however is another function of the monument as defined by the etymology of the word itself: to advise or to warn. (citation below) While the immense consumption of plastic in the US and abroad is widely known to have degraded our ecosystems to the extent that plastic and its bi-products can be found in glacial layers and breastmilk, our reliance on plastic products continues to grow. Indeed, “Big Plastic”, a large subsidiary of “Big Oil”, intends to aggressively grow their market in the coming years. This, while we begin to understand that only 8-10% of the plastic ever manufactured has actually been recycled. The widespread problem of plastic-and refuse in general- stands to grow increasingly more severe unless we make dramatic interventions. Harvest: “We reap what we sow.” I’ve always understood this to be an agricultural metaphor. Only recently did I discover the word harvest also being used to describe the number of hunted game in a given season. As images pour in of sea turtles choking on straws and beaches awash in dunes of plastic refuse, this “harvested” midwestern deer brings awareness of an international crisis more specifically to our local level.

Calling to Mind the Roots of the Word “Monument”, Dec. 2017

“…As for the word itself, monument comes from the Latin monumentum, which variously meant “a reminder, memorial, record, history, literary work,” and, yes, a “monument” as we think of it today. The word preserves the verb monere, “to call to mind, remind, advise, warn.” … The Latin monere also yields such words monitor, monster (monstrum, “sign, omen, object of dread”), and premonition. So, too, admonish, literally “to warn towards,” and demonstrate, “to point out.” Monere ultimately rises up from the Proto-Indo-European *men-, “to think.” The ancient root provides mind and mental, mention and comment, and mania and mentor, among plenty of other derivatives.

This monument consists of a silver deer on elaborate pedestal, as commonly seen throughout parks and plazas. The deer has an open cavity in its side, having been “harvested” by a hunter. The cavity is lined with bright plastic materials (reds) and filled with twinkling Christmas lights. Below the deer, the monument is piled with bright-colored plastics which have emerged from the deer’s cavity. The deer (a refurbished Christmas lawn decoration, found on a curb) sways its head back and forth.

One side of the monument offers information describing the problem of plastic and suggestions for mitigation. The monument is built exclusively out of selectively-culled refuse, primarily white styrofoam and the silver metallic interior of coffee bags.

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LOCATION: Weaver Park | Urbana