For our unmonumentATL series, we asked 13 artists to share their personal un-monuments with our readers. From January 13 to 29, we will present one artist’s submission per day. And don’t miss Nick Kahler‘s incisive two-part essay on the subject. UnmonumentATL was conceived by former BURNAWAY editor Rachel Reese.
Edward J. Snowden Park Fernleaf Court, northwest, Atlanta, Georgia, 30318.
Approx: +33° 49′ 10″, -84° 26′ 22″
Fernleaf, in northwest Atlanta, is a typical upper-middle-class, mostly white, Buckhead-adjacent neighborhood. The yards are big, but the houses are modest. Crime is seemingly non-existent. A picket fence proudly displays a plaque from the Fernleaf Garden Club for Best Yard. Residents wave to people walking their dogs up Fernleaf Court, a quarter-mile lane with a slight grade that terminates in a cul-de-sac. In the center of that terminus lies a circular plot with grass, crape myrtle trees, and some bushes surrounding a telephone pole. Three mossy slab benches form a semicircle around a loose configuration of flagstones embedded in the grass. It’s really a perfect place to sit and have a conversation during one’s after-dinner walk, to contemplate the dusky color of the sky before the mosquitoes come out. Except … Except for the large security camera mounted to the telephone pole, angling right over the shoulder of anyone who would sit there, nosing in on what might be said. Fernleaf’s bucolic nature is upended by this surveillance. In fact, all assumptions about Fernleaf are off. Are the neighbors really friendly, or are they behind a screen watching my every move? Do the Garden Club’s snipers have me in their crosshairs? Will the APD suddenly appear with dust busters, vacuuming for weed crumbs? I feel like a suspect in a crime that hasn’t happened yet. Regardless of whether this park previously had a name, I now call it the Edward J. Snowden Park, after the persecuted American hero who revealed the surprising scope of our government’s spying on its citizens. A clandestine naming ceremony is in the works—but I’ve said too much ….