THIS IS THE REAL PLACE
When you enter the monument, you discover the bowery. The bowery was the first official site of worship established by members of the LDS faith in the state of Utah prior to the construction of the LDS temple located downtown. Strangely, this sacred space, once a site of devotion, prayers and theological practice has been translated into a peculiar conference/picnic/event area. The kind you attend when gathering for family reunions or hazy midsummer outdoor conferences.
Photogrammetric Documents–The Bowery
Red sign with yellow hand-painted script reads: “Buy an edible feather from a real headdress.”
Lollipop stems are slid into a wooden carousel. I give it a spin.
Red, white, blue.
Yellow, green, brown.
Orange, yellow, red.
I’m nervous. This is the first time I’ve visited and I’m asking for permission to enter. I’m low on cash. Need to enter without paying. I shaved my head earlier to appear [more presentable], though I’m not entirely certain what that adjective means.
Clean cut/cleaned up/not that hippy goth look/you need to trim off that mop.
Children scatter around the room, darting between the stacks of “AUTHENTIC NATIVE AMERICAN JEWELRY,” headdress replicas and the worst of Americana knickknacks. Miniature US Flags in crystal cups next to printed flag sweatshirts with framed flag photograph, flag buttons in ceramic flag dishes, flag buttons pinned to the bust of a flag wearing mannequin. A flag of a flag holding a flag and so on.
I reinspect the lollipop feathers.
I retrieve an authentic cream soda from the fridge and pluck two lollipops from the carousel.
I read the nutrition facts on the back of the lollipops and smirk.
MADE IN CHINA
I noticed this bronze cast eagle perched low to the ground outside of the SMOOT HALL BRIGHAM YOUNG ACADEMY and a pattern emerged in my mind: I have seen this before.
After I left the monument gates and watched the highway road roll up under my Corolla tires, I remembered the same eagle on the the Eagle Gate monument that hovers downtown over State street.
I managed to dig up the original illustrations of the monument and discovered the eagle was originally carved out of wood. Due to the harsh seasons, the wood was rotting and the city made one out of bronze to replace the damaged fixture. Even more curious, in the 1960’s the city widened State street and tore out the original monument and replaced it with the current iteration.
The eagle is a replica of a translation of a translation of a replica.
At this point, my mind is squeezing.
The academy is also a replica. I have yet to go inside.
I interviewed the monument artisans–reenactment artisans–to ask them about their original labor practices. I also asked them about their experiences working at the monument. Patterns began to emerge. These two workers in particular came from opposite ends of the lifespan spectrum: a spinner volunteering her services in retirement and a young man continuing the traditions of his family heritage. Curiously their stories fold into one another. Parallel narratives arise while congruent narratives intersect. I have also aggregated other interviews I’ve uncovered from other end-users through Youtube.