Saturday, September 06, 2008
Path of Voices: Series of Madison sculpture installations focusing on violence and loss
"I cannot remember his voice." For many of us, the voices of loved ones gradually fade away after their death. We remember the people, of course, but the reality of their voices gradually blur and become less distinct in our minds.
I encountered this powerful statement about the pain of loss and mourning completely by accident. I was taking pictures on East Washington in front of East High School a while ago and noticed the series of sculptures in front of the school, pictured on the right. As I went over to look, I heard voices. They were quiet and conversational -- and came from speakers that were part of the sculpture installation. They were the voices of students recalling their experiences with violence. The effect was haunting. The installation is part of a series of four -- one at each public high school in Madison -- by New York artist and Madison native Bradley McCallum called Path of Voices.
This is the Path of Voices installation at West High School on Ash Street. When I stopped by the sound wasn't working, but perhaps it had been turned off for the weekend. Although this is near where I live, I had never noticed it, just as I was unaware of the entire series, even though I'm interested in public art in Madison. They're not usually included in lists of Madison public art (scroll down). Perhaps they fall into a bureaucratic jurisdictional black hole, since they are linked to the public schools and have been positioned as anti-violence statements and memorials as much as works of art. But I think the series is one of the better public art projects in the city.