American Rubble: Cultural Production and Historical Memory after 1989


American Rubble addresses the physical and social transformation occurring in our cities. Encompassing an artist residency, exhibition, and day-long symposium on December 5, 2014 at Haverford College, the project engages issues from the dismantling of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to contemporary urban redevelopment projects in Philadelphia’s post-industrial neighborhoods.

Invited artists, scholars, and students will consider both how cultural producers document urban change and economic upheaval, and how they might imagine possibilities for collectivity through urgent forms of public memory. Such a framework aims to measure changes due to historic “events” but also the less tangible undercurrents of gentrification. Throughout the day, we will explore how artistic projects and cultural interventions at sites of memory—including those that draw on rubble, ruins, traces, echoes, memes, and remixes—critically empower a history of the present.

  • Joshua Clover, Professor of English, University of California, Davis
  • Susanne Slavick, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Art, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Stephanie Syjuco, Assistant Professor of Art, University of California, Berkeley
  • Salamishah Tillet, Associate Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
  • Camilo José Vergara, Author, American Ruins

We will conclude the program with an opening of the temporary exhibition American Rubble: Micromonuments, featuring works by Mellon Creative Resident Stephanie Syjuco and students from Haverford College.

Find out more at the American Rubble website.

Sponsored by the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and the Mellon Creative Residencies Program, in collaboration with professors Paul Farber (Haverford College), Andrew Friedman (Haverford College), and Sharon Ullman (Bryn Mawr College).