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Folding Monuments is a series of interactive soft sculptures that question the maintenance of monuments in public space, and our role in upholding, or dismantling, the ideals and histories they represent. Each work is a scale replica of an existing monument, and remains either folded on a shelf, or collapsed on the floor until the public collectively decides to raise and animate it. Alternately, the works may be ironed and folded to be displayed on shelves. 

Installation views, Levantamiento: A Collective Unshaping, solo exhibition, The Rubin Center for the Visual Arts at the University of Texas at El Paso, 2023.

Photos: Julio Barrera

Exhibition text below written by Rubin curator Laura August

“Disruption comes in many wondrous forms.” –James C. Scott


Levantamiento means “to raise” or “to lift” and, in this exhibition, Guatemalan artist Jessica Kairé considers what happens when we work together to raise (or dismantle) our public monuments. Here, we invite you to interact with five fabric sculptures: these Folding Monuments are replicas of monuments in Guatemala City, New York City, and Ciudad Juárez. Each one remains collapsed on the floor or folded on a shelf until we decide, collaboratively, to lift it up (or carefully put it away). Each gesture requires communication about our shared decisions and actions. Each action necessitates different forms of care. Made from upcycled cotton, Kairé’s sculptures also bring softness to our encounters with these historical markers. National stories and identities are more malleable than they might seem. Perhaps, instead of concrete and metal, we deserve monuments that reflect tenderness, vulnerability, and an openness to change.

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