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Siah Armajani
Thomas Jefferson's House: East Wing, Night House
1976
Painted Balsa wood
11.75 x 56 x 15.6 cm (4 ⅝ x 22 x 6 ⅛ in)
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Between 1975 and 1977, Siah Armajani produced a series of sculptures related to Thomas Jefferson's Virginia estate, Monticello. Like the other works in this series, East Wing, Night House emphasised the role of partitioning and segregation at Monticello, which was not only a home but also a plantation staffed by slaves. Through its tonal contrasts and architectural divides, the work reminds us that the primary author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), who famously wrote that "all men are created equal", was also complicit in the continuation of human bondage. Like all of Armajani's Monticello sculptures, this work mirrors the broader oppressions of the antebellum era, confronting us with a history of American racism that continues into the present.