New York City

A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful

In 2018, Chang and Reeves created A Monument for the Anxious and Hopeful at the Rubin Museum of Art as a living catalogue of the ways we relate to the uncertainty of tomorrow. The result was a widescreen portrait of the national mood that collected 50,000 reflections.

Rubin Museum of Art, New York

By definition, anxiety and hope are determined by a moment that has yet to arrive—but how often do we pause to fully consider our relationship with the future? What apprehensions, expectations, and stories define our field of vision? And how do our private sensibilities square with the current collective mood? Free to all passersby, this year-long participatory installation invited visitors to anonymously write their anxieties and hopes on vellum cards and display them on a 30’ x 15’ wall for others to see. With each passing week, the wall grew into a monolithic barometer of the year’s emotional weather. Vivid fears in the wake of each mass shooting. Glimmers of empowerment as the Me Too movement gathered steam. Agitation and excitement in the midst of election season. And ongoing concerns about love, purpose, relationships, addiction, debt, and distraction, as well as inspiring reflections on compassion, family, resilience, and embracing change.

As the responses continued to accumulate throughout the year, the wall became a consoling and enlightening site where visitors could glean the prevailing mood while exploring over 50,000 individual meditations ranging from deeply personal reflections to broader political, spiritual, and psychosocial statements. Chang and Reeves are currently working with psychologists, sociologists, and researchers to document all responses, examine the themes and what they say about us and our culture today, and the strategies we use to reckon with uncertainty. They are also working on making this data available to others for further research.

New York City, 2018. The Rubin Museum of Art. 31′ w x 15′ h. Vellum, wood, acrylic. Project management by Jane Hsu. Exhibition design management by John Monaco. Installation assistance by Robert Paash, David Wilburn, Andrea Pemberton, and Muoi Ly.