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Review: monu-MENTAL 

D. Eric Bookhardt on an exhibit of "revised monuments" at Antenna Gallery

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History isn't what it used to be. Once, historical figures were summed up in a few choice words. Andrew Jackson was the hero of the Battle of New Orleans. Robert E. Lee was the courtly Southerner who opposed secession but commanded the Confederate army anyway. In retrospect, those views seem simplistic, so it's no surprise artists might try to revise some of the more prominent historical monuments around town. Ron Bechet's proposal for A More Accurate Jackson Monument features some bedraggled Native Americans in front of his equestrian statue in Jackson Square, a reminder that Jackson was "instrumental in removing over 70,000 Native Americans from their lands." Then there's the towering Robert E. Lee monument at Lee Circle, where the general symbolically faces north. But maybe he was just trying to get his bearings, because the more we learn about Lee, the more conflicted he seemed. Zakcq Lockrem addresses those identity issues with a distinctive graphical rendering of the site showing additional complementary statues of Harper Lee, Stan Lee, Bruce Lee and Spike Lee, persuasively noting that the city of Mostar, Bosnia, erected a statue of Bruce Lee as a symbol of its fight against ethnic divisions in the wake of the Bosnian War. Unlike Robert E. Lee, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was consistent to a fault — actually, many faults — so Max Cafard and Stephen Duplantier's plan to replace his Mid-City statue with an Angela Davis on Angela Davis Parkway (pictured) can be seen as a timely rotation of revolutionaries, substituting the Black Panthers for the Confederacy in the annals of lost causes. But even before the Confederacy, this city was where Benito Juarez launched the revolution that enabled him to become Mexico's first Native American president (see "Blake Pontchartrain," Gambit, Feb. 21), as Paulina Sierra's complex mixed-media piece reminds us, and it is gratifying that at least one former New Orleanian led a revolution that was widely acknowledged as having changed the course of history, mostly for the better. — D. Eric Bookhardt


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