Silent, colour video montage
Acquisition in 2013
Born in 1969 in Leicester (United Kingdom), Jonathan Monk lives and works in Berlin.
He graduated in 1991 from The Slade School of Art in Glasgow (Scotland).
He is represented by the following galleries: Nicolai Wallner (Copenhagen), Meyer Riegger (Karlsruhe), Lisson (London), Casey Kaplan (New York), Yvon Lambert (Paris) and Dvir Gallery (Tel Aviv).
Jonathan Monk’s work isn’t characterised by a pre-established style or a particular medium. Installation, photography, film, performance art – each new idea is revealed as a work in a different format. Like artists Ryan Gander and Mario Garcia Torres, Jonathan Monk belongs to post conceptual Art. Following the artistic practices of Lawrence Weiner and Joseph Kosuth, a new generation appropriated the analytical methods of “historical” conceptual art from the 1960s and 1970s in order to explore theoretical questions such as the relationship between the image, dialectics and language… but combining them with more personal and autobiographical, even trivial, concerns. Therefore, Jonathan Monk eludes or thwarts the usual components of an artwork, the parameters of the exhibition and the audience’s expectations. Whether he positions himself at an airport arrivals area with a sign in his hand, keeping watch for the unlikely arrival of a missing celebrity (Waiting for Famous People (Marcel Duchamp),1997), or creates neon signs similar to those of the art galleries selling his pieces, a work that is turned on during opening hours and switched off at closing time (Gallery Opening Hours, 2005), or indeed, two mirror exhibitions in Paris, in twin wings of the Palais de Tokyo (Time Between Spaces, 2008), Jonathan Monk examines the notions of context, derivation and artistic intention with great irony.
Some years ago, Jonathan Monk began collecting copies of the book Crackers by Ed Ruscha (1969), a collection of black and white photographs, of cinematic inspiration, illustrating a short story. A Californian painter (b. 1937) and figurehead of contemporary art, Ed Ruscha designed a series of artist’s books in the 1960s and 70s, marking the emergence of a conceptual approach to photography and a new use of books or editing as an artistic medium. Now rare, these books are actively sought after today by amateurs and, even though numerous copies exist, have acquired a high value on the art market. By doggedly collecting different copies of the same book, originating from various locations all over the world, Jonathan Monk delivers a kind of self-portrait of the artist as collector. The video is a testament to the personal relationship enjoyed by Jonathan Monk with the avant-garde figures of contemporary art. By focusing on a single object, he establishes the collector’s approach as an artistic approach. By editing the video Crackers as a one-off copy, he provides it with the value of rarity, while the succession of book covers in front of the camera contradicts the subject’s uniqueness by revealing, from one copy of the book to the next, the variable states of wear and tear, imperfections, differences, etc. It should be noted that in 2011, the New York painter Dan Colen also paid tribute to Crackers by Ed Rusha with his artist’s book Peanuts.