Socrates Sculpture Garden opens its gates to the very controversial topic surrounding monuments. The new installation, Monuments Now, addresses the role of monuments in society and commemorates underrepresented narratives with a focus on diasporas, indigenous, and queer histories. The Garden and its new installations offer New Yorkers a very welcomed safe way to venture out. Monuments Now will roll out in three parts, with the first part on view now.
“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.
Above, 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.
Above, artist Paul Ramírez Jonas imagines his Eternal Flamemonument 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.
Above, artist Xaviera Simmons’ contribution, The structure the labor the foundation the escape the pause, is composed of sculptural forms – each baring landscapes of text culled from historical documents foundational to racial disenfranchisement in the United States.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.
“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.
The Call-for-Artists for Part II (Monuments Now: Call and Response) of this exhibition brought in more than 200 proposals. Ten artists were chosen as The 2020 Socrates Annual Artist Fellows, as follows: Daniel Bejar, Fontaine Capel*, Patrick Costello, Dionisio Cortes Ortega, Bel Falleiros, Jenny Polak, Aya Rodriguez-Izumi, Andrea Solstad, Kiyan Williams*, and Sandy Williams IV. Their completed projects will be installed in September 2020 alongside Gibsons’, Ramírez Jonas,’ and Simmons’ work.
The Artist Fellows’ projects for MONUMENTS NOW: 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.
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.
On October 10, 2020, Part II and III will open together ~ Part II with Ten monument sculptures by the Park’s 2020 Artist Fellows, and Part III will consist of a multi-faceted monument project collectively realized by high school students.
Monuments Now Parts I, II and III will be on view through March, 2021 at Socrates Sculpture Garden, 32-01 Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City.
Broadway Billboard will also feature a monuments-related artwork by artist Nona Faustine. Also, in related programming, ‘Let’s Talk: A Socially-Distant Community Conversation’ taking place from July through October, 2020.
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.