As we enter an 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 diaspora, indigenous, and queer histories.
A year-long exhibition that evolves over three cumulative phases, ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ opens on May 16, 2020 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.
“At a time when monuments are under intense scrutiny, this exhibition provides artists from diverse backgrounds a unique opportunity to redefine the monument, and its role in remembering our country’s past, as well as its effect on our present and future. Socrates Sculpture Park, with its nimble approach, is a perfect incubator for artists who can influence the field of monument-creation and public art.” Kendal Henry, Director of Percent for Art Program at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs.
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.
“As a forum for public art, and as a cultural anchor in the most diverse county in America – Queens, New York – Socrates is the ideal venue to present nuanced artist-driven perspectives on the controversial issue of monuments and to facilitate discussion about cultural values,” John Hatfield, Executive Director of Socrates Sculpture Park.
For the Second Phase of the exhibition ~ MONUMENTS NOW: Call and Response, the Park released an open-call for monuments. Nearly 250 proposals were submitted and the ten artists selected for the exhibition will be announced in March 2020. Their completed projects will be installed in September 2020 alongside Gibson’s, Ramírez Jonas’, and Simmons’ work.
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. All three phases of ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ – 1. ‘Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas, Xaviera Simmons;’ 2. ‘Call and Response;’ and 3. ‘The Next Generation’ – will remain at the Park through March 2021.
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, the first phase of the exhibition, will be on view May 16, 2020 and will be on view through March, 2021. Socrates Sculpture Park is located at 32-01 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.