Wednesday, March 31, 2010




resembling a monument; massive or imposing.
exceptionally great, as in quantity, quality, extent, or degree: a monumental work.
of historical or enduring significance: a monumental victory.
Fine Arts. having the quality of being larger than life; of heroic scale.


...contrasts with the iconic power of museum architecture and with the idea of of museum building as a civic monument. Detecting a global trend towards the fragmentary and contingent in some of the strongest sculpture being made today, they are presenting work that reflects the extreme delicacy and fragility of life in the twenty-first century. It is an uncertain time, at best, with threats of ranging from religious wars and terrorism to global warming and species extinction."

-Lisa Phillips. Toby Devan Lewis Director, New Museum of Contemporary Art.
From the Book "Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century"

Nate Lowman

The Never Ending Story, 2007. Gas pumps, gas pump side panels. 80 x 137 x 53in

Not Sorry, 2006. Bullet Resistant Glass, brushed stainless steel, stickers. 36 x 12 x 108.5in

From Exhibition "A Dog From Every County". Unable to find dimensions and Title.

I have chosen Nate Lowman because of his neo-appropriationist approach to installation and sculpture. It seems to blend anthropological remains in new media, street art, and American bumper stickers and critiques the new American culture. He recycles real imagery, and by real i mean objects in our society. I feel that it can relate to my art practice because when I go out and photograph these trails and parks, I tend to look at the ramps, the hand built carvings that surround the landscape, and areas of man made manipulation and create a portrait of that activity, framed in a way to balance the object and the landscape in the photograph. I appropriate the creative nature of the remnants and juxtapose them in a way to incite debate and discussion of the object in question and the natural space around it.


Like so many recent exhibitions (numbing swaths of the Whitney Biennial, portions of the New Museum’s “Unmonumental”) the Colen-Lowman outing resembles a disheveled rec room. The palette du jour in these shows is black-and-white, black-and-silver, monochrome, Day-Glo, or printer’s colors like magenta and cyan applied mechanically or in intentionally messy ways. Posters, gaffer’s tape, magazine pages, and found objects are placed about. Images are usually derived from newspapers, ads, or porn. Text and jokes often appear (à la Richard Prince); holes are often bashed in walls; Sheetrock and plywood are broken up and spray painted. Noland’s ideas about sculpture and Prince’s about appropriation are so prevalent that those artists ought to be drawing royalties.

Much of this work takes visual cues from the photographs that appeared in art magazines of the sixties and seventies, translating that smudgy halftone quality to three dimensions. These artists seem to want to crawl into the skins of Gordon Matta-Clark and Robert Smithson, whose work did intrusive things to the large and familiar, and a preapproved roster from the so-called “greatest generation.” It’s a cool school based on an older cool school, and it gains attention the way a child of a celebrity does. Many artists of this stripe went to art school and have apparently internalized the beliefs of their teachers, using strategies common when those instructors were young. They’re making art in ways that their teachers thought art should be made. This is an Oedipal-aesthetic feedback loop, a death wish. Some of this art is good. Most of it already looks very dated, or will soon.

- Jerry Saltz. Published Apr 21, 2008 . New York Magazine.

Aleksandra Mir

First Woman On the Moon. 2000. C-Print. 36 x 36in. On location Wijk ann Zee, Netherlands

First Woman On the Moon. 2000. Detail. On location Wijk ann Zee, Netherlands

First Woman On the Moon. 2000. Detail. On location Wijk ann Zee, Netherlands

First Woman On the Moon. 2000. Detail. On location Wijk ann Zee, Netherlands.

I chose to use Aleksandra Mir because of the monumental idea and concept that was put into action with this project. I am focusing only on this piece because it uses a few definitions of the concept of "Monumental". First, the size and scale and site of the project. Second, how she critiques and reinterprets the monumental nature of the historic event. And finally, it becomes a monument in time because it becomes part of the lost landscape and adds a historical presence to the monument. I also enjoy that it is Earth Art, my work, in a particular sense, embraces that. My photographs are of Earth art, but it's just because the sculptural implications of the objects that I photograph. They become relics in the land, carved from the Earth to make the space more intense and extreme. That aspect also leads us to have a sense of awe and respect too, but it is also a detriment to the land.


At first spec, it's hard to marry the rich intellectual promises of the press release with the sober museological test-site on view, to get over the is-that-it? response that the historical framing of sites and objects can induce. The ideas are still in evidence, of course, just purposely concealed within the politics of display. Keith Wilson's moon-boot-material yoga mats, placed here and there, set the tone and territory of Morton's constellational arrangement: 1960s spiritual, 1970s retail and twenty-first-century eco values collide in this remodelled object. Fanned out on the ground, they appear to have broken the fall of a TV set playing Aleksandra Mir's sublime film 'First Woman on the Moon' (1999), which follows the daylong transformation of a Dutch beach into a lunar landscape. The temporal nature of the endeavour brings to mind Robert Smithson's 'Spiral Jetty' (1970), while Mir's tenderly filmed cast of faux-1960s women, burly construction crews and passersby imbue her gender-political message with rich human as opposed to dry academic undertones. Snippets of space-mission audio and an eclectic score supplied by Hasselblad, the cameramaker contracted by NASA for the original landing and a sponsor of Mir's project as well, raise and lower the exhibition pulse as if at the behest of a coronary condition.

Naturally, very little is as it seems. Formally light works harbour expansive narratives; truth and fiction layered to form improbable theoretical structures. Carey Young, for example, stipulates that her 'Plato Contract' (2008), a boy's bedroom poster-cum-photowork of the moon's Plato crater, will only become art for the purchaser once installed on the moon. The distance between wag-the-dog plausibility and mad-as-a-box-of-frogs lunacy often appears too close to call. It's impossible to say at what point science bleeds into fiction during Karen Russo's docufictional video account of a male psychic describing a location ('the dark side of the moon') simply from a set of map coordinates. For while his Ancient Egypt-inspired vision appears the stuff of comic-book fantasy, 'remote viewing' is known to have been used as an experimental surveillance technique during the Cold War.

- Deceitful Moon. by Rebecca Geldard ArtReview, #35, London, October 2009.

Jussi Kivi

House of Enigmas

Hottentot House

Dwarf House

The Pavillon

Cave 1245 "the theatre", Kivikko , Helsinki, 2006, c-print

Wall in Vuosaari, November, 2006, c-print

Material from the Speleology Department: Floor plan:
Cave 1242, Kivikko, Helsinki, 2005, mixed media

What has interested me in Jussi Kivi is that he is interested in geography and art as an entity, but also his re-contextualizing of the landscape and historic monument that are his first four photographs that I present in my blog. The place is in the outskirts of Hamburg, near an old Jewish cemetery, but the objects he photographs is an old building from the Nazi era. It's in fact an old gun-powder mill the Nazis used, but in the styling of the old German romantic painters, he renames the site of the cause of so much death, into a romantic aesthetic. This project was part of the mapping project of Hamburg, where Artists and writers used artistic interpretations to map the land around them. The buildings are shot in a monumental way, the old historic sites become something else. That's something i am interested in, he doesn't mind when spaces of rural and untouched natural beauty begin to overlap with cultural objects. I agree, I do mind in an environmental way, but I think he also has a point in his view. But it also goes into the idea of creativity vs. destruction, another aspect in which my art is to explore.


“What most interests me is the landscape,” says the artist Jussi Kivi. He also makes hiking trips to experience it. It need not be untouched, national-romantic nature; it can be the borderlands between culture and nature – even a rubbish dump.

Kivi makes notes on his expeditions: he writes, draws and makes maps, photographs and videos. Some of these become artworks, for example, large photographic prints. Kivi himself compares them to old genre paintings. Although he seeks the aesthetic, they still have an awareness of contemporary art: a distance, irony, and politicality, which are also evident in Kivi’s book Kaunotaiteellinen eräretkeilyopas (trekking guide for art lovers, 2004).

-Otso Kantokorpi

Center For Land Use Interpretation

Mount Greylock Summit. Photograph. Dimensions and media Variable

Description: A granite tower was originally destined to be a lighthouse on the Charles River estuary in Boston, but was instead hauled up to the top of Mount Graylock, Massachusetts' highest peak (3,491 feet), in 1932 and dedicated as a war memorial. The 92-foot-tall tower has an observation deck and a glass sphere at the top containing six 1,500-watt searchlights, the most powerful light in the state at the time of construction. The tower is not the highest structure in the state, however. A 200 foot tall television transmission mast was built near the tower by General Electric in the early 1950's, and was later bought by a New York State network affiliate.

Plymouth Rock. Photograph. Dimensions and media Variable

Description: The rock is under an elaborate protective canopy next to the coast. One of the few caged boulders in the nation.

Although I have used CLUI before in my word project, and have referenced them on many occasions, I Feel that their archive of work and information is so great that I should be able to tap into its resources again for my research. This is another one of their projects, where they went around and photographed the Monuments that are in the Bay state, that being Massachusetts. They arouse interpretation through imaged based knowledge. Since I am focusing on the monument, I felt that opening it up to all interpretations of the word monument is acceptable. This being the most literal interpretation becuase they in fact are National Monuments preserved by the Government and sites of flocking tourists. I think that this is opening up dialogue about the ideas of "The Monument" in American culture. What about the monument attracts so many people to that specific site? Do people really get enjoyment by returning to a place where something of significance was built? What is the point of people flocking to them? I wonder about that. Have I ever been to a place where something culturally was built and possibly receive some sort of existential gratification from it? Maybe, i always felt that feeling from isolated nature and the experience of a city, rather than a monument or point of interest.


Land use and aesthetics

Sustainability and politics of land use are at the forefront for artists who look at how people use the landscape, and also at alternative modes of energy. Center for Land Use Interpretation’s (CLUI) mission is to better understand land and landscape usages through research, artist residencies and exhibitions. For Badlands, CLUI will present a project entitled Massachusetts Monuments: Images of Points of Interest in the Bay State, which uses photographs and text to take museum visitors on a virtual tour of land usage throughout Massachusetts. Visitors weave through a world of plants and paths, occasionally discovering small carved marble highways and cityscapes in Yutaka Sone’s indoor “jungles” -- ideal worlds where nature engulfs “progress.” Joseph Smolinski, on the other hand, provides a creative solution to the politics of the land use by creating a wind turbine made to look like an enormous pine tree – not unlike the cell phone tower “trees” that dot our highways – merging a facsimile of a natural environment with a renewable power source.

- Denise Markonish
Badlands curatorial statement

Tony Cragg

Clear Glass Stack. 1999. Glass. 2200 x 1300 x 1400mm

Constant Change

Minster. 1992. mechanisms, springs, disks, bolts. H. 285, 275, 260, 215 cm. base. 250 x 250cm

I chose Tony Cragg because of his monolithic interpretations of the tower and its spatial design and monumental aesthetics. His work involves the towering spires that are a staple of contemporary culture and city design. They have become an iconic symbol of our time and cities, but he also points out that these spires have been in place for ages. His work seems to point back to the very olden times such as the Aztecs or the Babylonians (Babylon and Nineveh). These objects become very open to interpretation and I like to see them as these minimalist sculptures that incorporate the past, present and future. This relates to my work by creating an object in space, the idea of stacking and manipulated throughout a landscape (since much of his work is very public) he plays with the notion of spatial relationships, something I feel my work does, but in a 2-D way.


Since the 1980s, British sculptor Tony Cragg has maintained a consistently high profile on the international stage. Cragg's works can be divided into various loose genuses within his practice, such as stacks, heaps and piles, fragments or early forms. He explains that his glass works of the late 1990s have their "roots in a much earlier activity in my history of making. They relate obviously, physically, to sedimentary works, to the collection of objects, to assemblage, to additive sculptur,, to stacking things.... they're very much to do with things accruing, having a construction underneath the whole thing, building it up." Clear Glass Stack is the most refined of his glass works, the one in which the idea is crystallised. It eschews the allusive connotations seen in other works of the same period and is concerned with the purity of the sculptural idea. Indeed writers have commented on Cragg's borrowings from minimalism and, as Kay Heymer explains, his pursuit of the 'sculptural idea, resembling a scientific experiment conducted until it yields no further answer to the current query". Cragg is not directive about the angle or approach that should be taken to his work, but emphasises that his work is concerned with engaging our visual rather than haptic sense. His works can be playfully humorous and he is intrigued by the visual paradoxes his works sometimes unexpectedly present.

Manfred Pernice

Plateau (study). 2004. Painted Particle Board. 26 x 47 x 16in

Plateau (Frau Saft), 2004. Painted particle board, ceramic sculpture, lamp
35 x 82 x 142 in

What I like about Manfred Pernice's work is that it takes cues from architectural forms found in public spaces such as phone booths, kiosks, street lamps, etc. He also uses very accessible materials and seems to be very much into the ready made to a degree. The monumental aspect comes from the object and its aesthetic and relationship to the space. Much of his work is based off of monumetal figures such as citadels and industrial towers as well. Since the work is based on man made utilitarian objects, but are created by an artist and very pedestal-esque in appearance, it becomes elevated in its viewership. His works play with scale and shape so they create a dialogue about the familiarization with architecture.


One immediate reason for the surge of interest in Pernice's work is its commentary on architecture, a cipher for any number of social and political issues in the New Berlin. But for all the architectural subtext, his works are thoroughly engaged with basic sculptural issues of form, assembly, and surface. His contribution to the Berlin Biennale - Tatlintower, 1998, a hulking construction of horizontally layered wooden boards that seems like an abstract riff on Chicago's Marina City, the combination apartment complex, office building, and aboveground parking lot that became an icon of '60s architecture - oscillates between an organic and technoid appearance. Pernice succeeds in fusing the social and political implications registered in his towering structure (here, a revisitation and reconsideration of utopian multifunctional architecture) with a genuinely sculptural sensibility. The lines of the horizontally layered slats circumscribe the volume of the sculpture and define a large area of surface tension. The "cumulative" arrangement of the slats and their relationship to the inner core of the structure thematize the inherently sculptural aspects of structural support and distribution of load. Pernice simultaneously reveals and conceals by allowing a view into the interior of the sculpture without, however, fully exposing the construction.

ArtForum, April, 1999 by Yilmaz Dziewior

Sam Durant

Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions, Washington DC, 2005. Medium densiy fiberboard, foam, enamel, acrylic, basswood, birch veneer, copper. 30 Monuments. Dimensions Variable.

Proposal for Monument at Altamont Raceway, Tracy, CA, 1999. Polyurethane foam, acrylic, wood, steel, speakers, CD Player, miscellaneous hardware. 69 x 74 x 100in

Sam Durant's work is very political in its presentation and its context. His sculpture Proposal for White and Indian Dead Monument Transpositions is very much about the idea of monumentality, He plays off of the obelisk, an object that throughout the ages acted as a monumental structure. The pieces were all based off of obelisks from throughout the USA. The work addresses architecture, civic design, and American Monuments.


Sam Durant's recent works have explored the memorialisations of otherness that mark quirky American spaces with their histories. Durant, who grew up in the vicinity of the mythic Plymouth Rock, site of the Pilgrims' landing in the New World, assembled the figures and props he bought from the museum into sculptural installations for his recent exhibition at Massachusetts College of Art. Defunct bodies made of a reddish-brown rubbery material come together in eerie and silly combinations. Mobilising the uncanny look of a haunted wax museum, Durant's project combines an antique-store's kitschy aura with deconstructed historiography, showing us the tattered banality of colonial logic. The fraying costumes, the dead eyes, the wear and tear of the decades that have passed since these objects were made: all of these contribute to a material mash-up of the 1600s, the 1960s and now. Durant successfully disperses the mystical ambience of these memorial objects, and consequently the superstitions they memorialise. Rather than materialising as a sturdy foundation for a national historical project, these broken-down myths in wax-figure form appear particularly flimsy. Durant's manipulation of these figures shows how malleable such asserted natural histories are, whether in the hands of hegemonic power or a clever Southern California artist.

- Malik Gaines
Sam Durant: Shaping History
Posted by ArtReview magazine on February 22, 2007 at 2:00pm

Eva Rothschild

High Times. 2005. Leather and Steel Support. 171 x 15.5 x 15.5in

Someone and Someone - 2009. Steel and paint.


Eva Rothschild has achieved international acclaim for her practice which involves both conceptual and socio-political ideas alongside traditional approaches to making sculpture. One of the most highly regarded artists of her generation, Rothschild presents new and recent work for her solo exhibition at the South London Gallery.

For more than ten years Rothschild has investigated concepts of form and materiality in sculptural works that use leather, wood, Perspex and, occasionally, surprising objects such as incense sticks and used tyres. Such materials often appear to transcend their physical limitations, hovering between representation, symbolism and actual form. By deliberately destabilising physical and visual characteristics in her work, Rothschild not only questions the aesthetics of art, in particular minimalism, but also those of belief in social liberation and spiritual movements.

author not cited

Manfred Willmann

Manfred Willmann, Das Land (1981 - 1993) 27.5x27.5in. C-Print

Manfred Willmann, Oman, 1997 C-Print


The central theme of Manfred Willmann's photographic cycles "Das Land" (1981.-1993.), "Oman" (1997.) and "Japanese Food" (2000.), simultaneously shown in Zagreb, are registration, objectivity and visualization of aspects and manifestations of human relations, surroundings and immediate environment, all that encloses people in social and natural landscape where they dwell and act - in their most diversified and often absolutely ambivalent details. The excellent Willmann's cycle "Das Land", exhibited all around the world in the most prestigious museums (Museum of Modern Art in New York bought off the part of it), discloses the artist who, at least in this case, does not care for global and great themes, but is focused on just one social (rural) segment, where he moves with ease as its authentic connoisseur and where his eye, sensitive especially to the social aspect, recognizes the motley mosaic of sundry, social and private, often even very intimate details of rural community and villagers' socializing.
The cycle contains sixty photographs created without special preparations and laboratory editing and shows very intimate photographic entries of people and nature in Grossradl community in western, rural part of Steierland. The artist kept these entries for twelve years as a kind of subjective photographic diary that discloses not only the panorama, but the whole universe of different scenes that document the fullness of village life in the county. These expressive and suggestive, intimately charged photographs show particular landscape's spirituality and beauty, enhancing and shading it by the presence of local inhabitants. Blended with the environment, fitted into it by the artist's gesture, they seem to be grown together. "'Das Land' means the familiarity with this region, meeting the people and families that live there, their work, their homes, their friends", says Willmann. Instead of focusing on local historic sites and picturesquesness, like regional customs, insignia and attributes like folk costumes, folklore and similar phenomena, the artist, obviously already at home in the region and well accepted by the locals as a dear guest - avoiding to direct, frame or form into style - registrates small scenes of relaxed and spontaneous atmosphere, frivolous presence, numerous changes throughout the years, alterations of village life dictated by the change of seasons, as in landscape so in animal world, to create the rich and above all convincing mosaic of details that clearly, with unhidden sympathy, document the life - getting into the spheres of social life, like parties, celebrations, dances, but also into the most intimate ones (like a girl washing her feet) - emphasizing these people's ordinariness and modesty - everyday routine at households and farms - in a small, seemingly uninteresting environment that, as it seems, could be found anywhere. Willmann's photographs are sometimes naturalistically cruel - like the one showing a cat with bloodstained snout or the other one showing a pig's head in the cauldron full of bloody water or the photograph of a liver drying on the tree - but sometimes they are deliberately sentimental. "At the same time sentiment blends with roughness, life and death exist in the close touch of reality, peasant's coarse hands hold a small rabbit with lots of compassion and chopped off pig's head floats in bloody liquid in the plastic can", Vinko Srhoj wrote. Willmann exposes villager as a content man, decently registrating his feeling of boredom and resignation as a result of settled life that is carefully planned, from day to day, lived for centuries by established and bent ritual. Living its life, the community fights for its customs and resists the changes that come with contemporary civilization (and aggressively imposed globalization) that are, as the cycle shows, unavoidable. In any case, Willmann "felt" the spot where discrepancy between the world and ego is the thinnest.

-Ivica Zupan,-Oman,-Japanese-Food,-three-photographic-cycles/114/

Francis Alys

When Faith Moves Mountains. (In collaboration with Cauhtemoc Medina and Rafael Ortega). 2002. Video Still. Dimensions Variable.

The Making of Lima. (In collaboration with Cauhtemoc Medina and Rafael Ortega), 2002. Video Still. Dimensions Variable.


"Sometimes making something leads to nothing, sometimes making nothing leads to something." The seemingly paradoxical logic of this statement, uttered by the artist himself, informs the work of Francis Alÿs. His works often begin as simple actions performed by himself or commissioned volunteers, which are recorded in photographs, film, and other means of documentation such as postcards. Many of his projects are generated during the artist’s “walks,” or paseos, in which he traverses city streets. In these works, Alÿs proposed witty updates to Baudelaire’s figure of the nineteenth-century flaneur. His first walk was The Collector (1991–92), in which he strolled through the streets of Mexico City pulling a small metal “dog” by a leash, its magnetic wheels collecting the city’s detritus in its wake. In Paradox of Praxis (1997), the artist pushed a large block of ice down the streets for hours until it was reduced to a mere puddle. For The Leak (1995), he roamed the streets of Ghent with a punctured can of paint, leaving a sort of Jackson Pollock-like breadcrumb trail back to a gallery space, where he finally mounted the empty paint can to the wall.

Alÿs's endeavors often exceed the dimensions of discrete objects. In 2002 a group of some five hundred volunteers armed with shovels formed a line at the end of a massive, 1,600-foot sand dune and began moving the sand about four inches from its original location. This epic project, When Faith Moves Mountains (2002), was completed for the third Bienal Iberoamericana de Lima in a desolate landscape just outside the Peruvian capital. The work is neither a traditional sculpture nor an Earthwork, and nothing was added or built in the landscape. That the participants managed to move the dune only a small distance mattered less than the potential for mythmaking in their collective act; what was “made” then was a powerful allegory, a metaphor for human will, and an occasion for a story to be told and potentially passed on endlessly in the oral tradition. For Alÿs, the transitory nature of such an action is the stuff of contemporary myth.

-Guggenheim, author not specified.

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