Daily screenings at 1 and 4:30 pm.
In a fictional narrative, the artists Robert Smithson and Gordon Matta-Clark are revived from the dead and ejected from their makeshift mausoleums in New York by the forces of redevelopment. Led through New Jersey by a young Dan Graham, they debate their artistic positions with the ‘non-actors’ they encounter at the sites of their work.
In keeping with much of the science fiction writing that inspired Robert Smithson and his colleagues, Monuments is a voyage to the Lost World. Like 19th century adventurers, these artists reacted to the crisis in modernism by seeking out material at the margins, and New Jersey was the first and recurring figure of this margin.
Monuments re-enacts the narrative subtext of Post-Minimalism with some of the crude poetry of the American B-movie, drawing on the treatment of the figure in the landscape in North American cinema from sources as diverse as Fattie Arbuckle and Buster Keaton’s ‘two-reeler’ films and John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln.
Many of their early works were made in or engaged with the landscapes of New Jersey, and the film retraces Post-Minimalism’s abiding interest in the relationship between New York and New Jersey. What at first seems to be a film about art history, becomes a portrait of the areas of New Jersey that were once the industrial belt of New York, and a second story emerges of the demise of industry in the region and the changing position of North America within a globalized economy.
Monuments was produced as part of the New Commissions Program, which is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services; Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; Jerome Foundation; and Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation.
Additional support for Monuments has been provided by Arts Council England, London with the support of Film London; Artists’ Moving Image Network; and the Independent Features Project.