MAC/VAL

MAC/VAL is opened every day of the week, except on mondays:
tuesday to friday, 10 h to 18 h
week-ends and holidays, 12 h to 19 h.

Closed on january 1st, may 1st and december 25th.

phone: 01 43 91 64 20
fax: 01 79 86 16 57

Access map

Place de la Libération
94400 Vitry-sur-Seine

  013/023  

Jonathan Monk

Notice

Jonathan Monk was born in 1969, a crucial
year for the declaration of the premises
of Conceptual Art [1]. It may be as well
to be wary of any form of biographical
determinism, but this chronological
coincidence is nonetheless resonant. For
Monk’s art has two main sources: his family
history and his deep interest in the
history of art, that of Minimalist and
Conceptual Art, certain forms of which he
reactivates. But over and above mere
quotation, it is above all the spirit
of Conceptual Art that he summons up in
his works. His multifaceted praxis does not
admit to any specifically personal style.
The Gallery Hours series presents neon
signs giving simply the days and hours when
the galleries selling his works are open,
one such being the Yvon Lambert gallery
in Paris. By thus appropriating the visible
signs of the dissemination of art, is the
artist questioning its place in society?
At a very early stage, Monk preferred
to announce and display himself outside
contemporary art venues, exhibiting in bars
and even in his bathroom. But more than
an idea or a parody of galleries,
Gallery Hours transcribes a timetable of
activity. The neon, set in all the various
venues to the local time of the Paris
gallery, lights up then goes out at the
times announced. A closed relationship
between a declaration and a fact that calls
to mind some of Joseph Kosuth’s works.
But Jonathan Monk turns his back on the
objective and autonomous tautology of
Conceptual Art, factoring in an exogenous
parameter. The activation of the work,
regulated by the art dealer’s operations,
imposes a foothold in reality.

The public, in its relation to the work,
is permanently dependent on its commerce –
their presence alone is not enough to
reactivate the piece. To see the sign lit
up, people must go to the museum when the
gallery is open, at the times displayed.
The work proclaims its own rule, at once
paradoxical and frustrating. In a consumer
society, is culture so under the yoke of
the economy? Are we looking at a strategy
of failure with regard to diffusion by
exhibition? It is not certain. Perfectly
synchronising visibility and activation
of the work presupposes its definitive
presence, with no sale, at Yvon Lambert’s.
Being able to view the work thus stems in
the end from the failure of its commerce.
Having transgressed the rule, the museum
is condemned to wait for... the gallery
to open.

I.J.

[1In January 1969 the art dealer Seth
Siegelaub organised a manifesto show in New
York featuring the Conceptual artists Robert
Barry, Douglas Huebler, Joseph Kosuth and
Lawrence Weiner. That same year, Sol LeWitt
published his theoretical positions on
Conceptual Art.