Utah Monolith

Utah Monolith
Object date placed 2015-2016; discovered 18.11.2020; removed 27.11.2020
Place of Origin Public lands, southeastern Utah, USA
Designer Unknown
Manufacturer Unknown
Materials Aluminum (?), rivets

by student Mariela Urra Schiaffino

The Utah monolith was discovered and vanished ten days later, leaving behind an aura of mystery and fascination. Its authorship and the motives for its placement and subsequent removal remain unknown. Its ephemeral and viral life speaks of the instantaneous collective practices of investing objects not only with meaning but also with action. The social-media frenzy surrounding the monolith brought about reactionary ideas that presumably led to the removal of the original piece (Davis, 2020) as well as the appearance of a growing number of monoliths around the world. In a year marked by lockdowns, protests and social agitation, the Utah monolith demonstrates that global flows are the true organic creators of emergent phenomena – by designing, modifying, disappearing and re-appearing objects and practices.

Palumbo, J. (2020, December 5). Is the Utah monolith this year’s viral art moment? CNN Style. https://edition.cnn.com/style/article/utah-monolith-viral-art-moment/index.html

Crowley, J. (2020, December 3). The Monoliths: A Timeline of the Mysterious Objects That Keep Appearing and Disappearing. Newsweek. https://www.newsweek.com/monoliths-timeline-third-appears-california-utah-romania-1552179

Surber D. [@davidsurber_]. (2020, November 25). “#utahmonolith Had close to 200 messages on this. “So here are the facts. -Aluminum -Not 🧲 magnetic-Three pieces riveted together [Video]. Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/CIBjimQguc4/

Davis, B. (2020, December 2). There Is an Alien Power Driving the Frenzy Over the Utah Monolith. It’s Just Not From Outer Space. Artnet News. https://news.artnet.com/opinion/the-utah-monolith-and-the-aesthetics-of-anti-meaning-1927808


Original image taken by Patrickamackie2 (Patrick A. Mackie) (2020). Cropped and colour adjusted by Chainwit (2020). Utah Desert Monolith [photograph]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Utah_Desert_Monolith.jpg CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Original image cropped.


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