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CIRCA 20:22

Cassandra Press, A Monument A Ruin

1-28 February

A historic first, CIRCA and Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters present A Monument A Ruin by Cassandra Press, a publishing platform founded in 2016 by critically acclaimed artist Kandis Williams. The new work – a short video-lecture in which ancient street inscriptions collide with contemporary protest graffiti to question the nature of monuments – will appear every evening throughout February at 20:22 on London’s iconic Piccadilly Lights and broadcast across a network of screens in Melbourne, Seoul and Tokyo. 

In the wake of Black Lives Matter’s global uprisings in 2020, the use and symbology of graffiti in public spaces have taken on new and powerful significance prompting an urgent reflection on the meaning and manifestation of “collective history” in the public domain, particularly in the context of modern monuments, memorials and statues tied to slavery and colonialism. 

A Monument A Ruin draws on the recovery by archaeologists of an exceptional amount of tituli picti – an ancient form of urban graffiti, including slogans and electoral propaganda (programmata) – painted across the streets of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, buried under volcanic ashes in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. These inscriptions provide a dense narrative of the daily concerns of Pompeian society, including the political agency of groups such as women and slaves who were not permitted to vote. 

In Cassandra Press’ new commission for CIRCA, the ancient street markings are overlaid with contemporary issues of political agency and visibility of socially oppressed groups in today’s Western societies. Evolving from Williams’ participation in Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters – the first research and contemporary art programme commissioned by the Archaeological Park of Pompeii -, A Monument A Ruin constructs a complex composite of layered photographs, footage, texts and audio that unravel with movement and dialogue to bridge the past and present into simultaneous focus. Photographer Brandon English collaborated with Cassandra Press on a new series of photographs shot in situ at Pompeii over two nights in Summer 2021, projecting his visual accounts of the protests and assemblies in 2020 by New York abolitionist groups onto different buildings and frescoes in Pompeii, and now appearing on buildings around the world this February.

Screen locations

20:22 GMT ➳ London, Piccadilly Lights

20:22 PST ➳ Los Angeles, Pendry West Hollywood

20:22 ACT ➳ Melbourne, Fed Square

20:22 KST ➳ Seoul, COEX K-Pop Square

21:30 JST ➳ Tokyo, Yunika Vision, Shinjuku



01/02/2022 Press release: Cassandra Press, A Monument A Ruin