As we enter a contested election year and find ourselves reevaluating American identity and values, a new exhibition at Socrates Sculpture Park, ‘MONUMENTS NOW,’ will seek to address the role of monuments in society and commemorate underrepresented narratives such as diasporic, Indigenous, and queer histories.
A year-long exhibition that evolves over three cumulative phases, ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ opens summer 2020 (exact date TBA) with new commissions for contemporary monuments by Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, and Xaviera Simmons; continues in September 2020 with the unveiling of monument sculptures by artists selected through an open call competition; and then incorporates a monument collectively realized by local high school students in October 2020. All three phases of ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ will remain at the Park through March 2021.
A robust offering of artist-driven public programs – including performances and educational workshops – accompanies the exhibition. ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ will also allow opportunities for public response and engagement in acknowledgment of how monuments are created not just by artists but also by society.
Major support comes from the Ford Foundation, VIA Art Fund, and the Andy Warhol Foundation, with additional funding from the Henry Luce Foundation for an artist-focused publication.
‘MONUMENTS NOW: Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Xaviera Simmons’
Image: Jeffrey Gibson in his studio with a model of ‘Because Once You Enter My House It Becomes Our House,’ 2020.
Summer 2020 (exact date TBA)
The first phase of the exhibition, ‘MONUMENTS NOW: Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Xaviera Simmons,’ will feature three distinct visions for monuments:
Artist Jeffrey Gibson – a recipient of a 2019 MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” – will present a monument to inclusion and diversity: ‘Because Once You Enter My House, It Becomes Our House.’ Drawing from Indigenous Mississippian culture, architecture, activist graphic traditions, and queer performative strategies, the large-scale public sculpture projects a future vision of the world that embraces complexities within collective identity. Learn More
Paul Ramírez Jonas imagines his ‘Eternal Flame‘ monument as a communal grill. The form honors the role of cuisine and cooking in cultural cohesion and expression among immigrant communities and identities. ‘Eternal Flame‘ is designed to invite dialogue and exchange. Learn More
Xaviera Simmons’ contribution, ‘The structure the labor the foundation the escape the pause,’ is a series of three sculptural forms – each baring landscapes of text culled from historical documents foundational to racial disenfranchisement in the United States. The works are a monument to promises denied, offering insight into governmental policies that continue to shape the racial caste system we live within presently. Learn More
‘MONUMENTS NOW: Call and Response’
Image: Daniel Bejar, Concept rendering of a monument to immigrants, 2020.
Saturday, September 12
For the second phase of the exhibition – ‘MONUMENTS NOW: Call and Response’ – the Park released an open-call for monuments. Over 200 proposals were submitted through a competitive open-call and reviewed by Socrates Director, John Hatfield and Socrates Curator, Jess Wilcox, as well as two Curatorial Advisors – Aimé Iglesias-Lukin, Director and Chief Curator of Visual Arts at the Americas Society and Legacy Russell, Associate Curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Ten artists were ultimately selected.
The 2020 Artist Fellows are: Daniel Bejar, Fontaine Capel*, Patrick Costello, Dionisio Cortes Ortega, Bel Falleiros, Jenny Polak, Aya Rodriguez-Izumi, Andrea Solstad, Kiyan Williams*, and Sandy Williams IV*.
The Artist Fellows’ projects for ‘Call and Response’ take various archetypal monumental forms such as the arch or the column and dedicate them to underrepresented peoples and histories – from the civil servants who deliver fresh drinking water to the everyday struggle for self-determination by the country’s descendants of chattel slavery.
What unites these various approaches is a focus on collective agency and power, departing from the hero narrative of traditional monuments. Much of the works’ impact relies on public participation and reception by actively inviting visitors to take part in creating the meaning of the monument.
*2020 New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellows
‘MONUMENTS NOW: The Next Generation’
Image: Student participants in the 2019 Socrateens program, Photo by Socrates Lead Educator Doug Paulson.
Saturday, October 10
For the third and final exhibition phase, ‘MONUMENTS NOW: The Next Generation,’ high school students participating in the Park’s arts education program, Socrateens, will collectively research and realize a monument sculpture (on view beginning October 2020) and accompanying zine.
‘MONUMENTS NOW’ is organized by Socrates Sculpture Park and curated by Jess Wilcox, Curator & Director of Exhibitions. It is made possible with generous support from the Ford Foundation, VIA Art Fund, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Lily Auchincloss Foundation, The Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, The New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowships and the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. Additional support for an accompanying publication is made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation. Socrates’s Exhibition Program is funded by the Charina Foundation, The Sidney E. Frank Foundation, Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation, Agnes Gund, Lambent Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Smith, Mark di Suvero and Spacetime C.C. ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ is funded, in part, by public funds from the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, & the National Endowment for the Arts.