Sam Durant's "Scaffold" (2012) mostly dismantled at the end of the day on Friday, with its wooden parts in a bin at left (photo by Sheila Regan/Hyperallergic)

Sam Durant’s “Scaffold” (2012) mostly dismantled at the end of the day on Friday, with its wooden parts in a bin at left (photo by Sheila Regan/Hyperallergic)

Yesterday, the last of the wood from Sam Durant’s controversial sculpture “Scaffold” (2012) was placed into large bins and removed from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by Dakota workers from Straight Line Construction. Per the agreement reached at a meeting last Wednesday, the wood was slated to be burned in a ceremony near Fort Snelling, but that outcome has been delayed and may ultimately never occur. “Scaffold,” a wood and steel structure depicting the gallows used in seven historic hanging executions sanctioned by the US government, was dismantled after members of the Dakota Nation objected to its portrayal of the structure used to hang the Dakota 38 at Mankato, Minnesota following the US-Dakota War of 1862.

In a post late yesterday Stephanie Hope Smith, a member of the Cherokee Nation who is serving as a mediator between members of the Dakota nation, Durant, and officials from the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (which co-manage the Sculpture Garden), wrote that the Dakota elders “wish to take time, slow down and allow more voices.” While the elders seek input from more Dakota people both in Minnesota and those living in exile in other states, the wood from the disassembled sculpture will be held at a secure Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board facility. In her post, Smith elaborates:


1) there is no formal ceremony at Fort Snelling this week.

2) there is no formal burning of the wood from the sculpture this week.

In the end, the elders may decide that the wood should not go to Fort Snelling. The elders may decide that the wood from the sculpture should not be burned and instead should be used/disposed in some other way. Or they may choose to proceed. But this decision will be made in their way and their time at the site of their choosing.

In the meantime, Smith said that the sculpture’s concrete base will be removed and its steel structure recycled.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...