Freedom Hill Monument, 2018, graphite and paint on paper, 35 x 70 in
Downey's Freedom Hill Monument drawings and What we came to see video were produced in response to a group exhibition titled "Partial Views," organized by Elizabeth Tubergen in early 2018. The works were also exhibited as part of "Omniscient" at Leslie Lohman Museum in 2021.
Freedom Hill Monument explores the 37 public monuments made between 1960 and 1980 in the former Yugoslavia under Josip Broz Tito’s mandate. 'Spomenik' is the Serbo-Croatian/Slovenian word for 'monument', the root 'spomin' meaning memory. Although they commemorate the violence suffered under the Axis occupation of the region during WWII and acts of resistance by anti-fascist Partisans, also known as Tito’s army of rebels, many of the structures were designed and funded at the local level by the municipalities in which they are sited. The monuments' brutalist forms underscore their conflicting purposes to engage local visitor's on a bodily level while reinforcing state authoritarianism. Downey, who has never visited these monuments, explores the sculptures and their histories through their friends' documentation and personal narratives. These works meditate on the possibilities of accessing history through queer and feminist approaches to corporeality, particularly considering violent surges in authoritarianism nationally and internationally.