Label Text: In his <i>Proposal,</i> Oldenburg monumentalizes a mundane object. By doing so, he challenges the conception that public monuments should commemorate grand historical figures and events.
The scale of the typewriter eraser in this lithograph, contextualized with its placement on the island of Alcatraz, brings to mind the “erasure” of the people, promises, and institutions that formed the island’s history. These “erased” memories may include the inmates who resided on the island when it was home to a federal penitentiary or the protests which occurred in the 1960s and ‘70s concerning the return of Alcatraz to the Native American people.
Although the typewriter and Alcatraz have fallen out of recent memory, the commentary made in this print remains pertinent by raising questions about Native American rights, our federal prison system, and what parts of history we choose to memorialize.