New Monuments on the Lower East Side

Installation shot of “New Monuments”, at left Ben Godward “Double Fantasy” (2011), at far right, Jesse Bercowetz's “Circus of Circus” (2010) (all photos by hyperallergic)

Entirely new work was made for New Monuments. “Artists were selected for the show, not specific works,” says show-organizer and participating artist Ben Godward, who basically commissioned the other four participants. They all have deep ties to the Bushwick art scene, and are all transplants from the Midwest.

They met, work or — as in Godward’s case — even live in one large building in Bushwick affectionately called the Laundromat, so named for the large laundromat on the ground floor.

New Monuments provides clear insight into the current practices of many artists in Bushwick now.

At left, Liz Atzberger's “Black Rock Candy Mountain” (2011), at right, Letha Wilson's “Sunset Airplane Wilderness Ranch” (2010)

There is no polemic behind New Monuments. Whereas Smithson’s Modernist monoliths attempted to subvert capitalism (only to be eventually subsumed by it) these artists do not take an overtly political stance. They do suggest that revisiting Modernist aesthetics and optimism may be a fruitful pursuit at this particular moment in art production.

Audrey Hasen Russell, “Small Knot” (2011)

The show argues for a return to process-based studio practice, and to the idealism that was so prevalent in art making in the 1970s. The show noticeably lacks the conceptual positioning and manifestos of artists in the 70s, again, like Smithson, but also Serra, Benglis, Hesse, Irwin, and others.

It also indicates a rejection of a traditional Avant-Garde (oxymoron intended) approach, where work needs not strive to be unrelentingly new, or of the frivolous now, but instead, interesting enough for pursuit in the studio. Lynda Benglis’ work, for all its variety, remains deeply focused not on complex philosophical concerns but instead in making objects.

Read the full article here on Hyperallergic.

New Monuments, curated by Ben Godward, on view at Lesley Heller Workspace, 54 Orchard Street, New York, April 13 – May 13, 2011, Wed – Sun, 12 – 6pm.

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