Sam Du­rant: ‘I chose to do what I did freely’

The artist be­hind ‘Scaf­fold’ ex­plains why he’s OK that his work was taken down.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Carolina A. Mi­randa

The grassy mound at the Min­neapo­lis Sculp­ture Gar­den lies empty.

Last month, a con­tro­ver­sial sculp­ture by L.A. artist Sam Du­rant stood on the site. Ti­tled “Scaf­fold,” it was a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of seven gal­lows from his­toric U.S. govern­ment ex­e­cu­tions, in­clud­ing those of abo­li­tion­ist John Brown in 1859, four an­ar­chists in Chicago’s 1886 Hay­mar­ket af­fair and the 1862 hang­ing of 38 Dakota men in Mankato, Minn. — the largest mass ex­e­cu­tion in U.S. his­tory.

“Scaf­fold” had been ex­hib­ited in Europe pre­vi­ously, but in the Sculp­ture Gar­den, op­er­ated by the Walker Art Cen­ter, it sparked a me­dia firestorm. Ac­tivists said it triv­i­al­ized one of the ghastli­est episodes in Dakota indige­nous his­tory.

“It’s not art to us,” one Dakota pro­tester told the Min­neapo­lis Star Tribune.

In early June, Du­rant, who is white, came to­gether with Dakota elders and museum of­fi­cials and agreed to re­move “Scaf­fold.” He also signed in­tel­lec­tual rights to the piece to the Dakota.

“I have no in­ten­tion of mak­ing a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of that again,” says Du­rant. “They asked me, ‘How do we know you won’t do this

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