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Indepth Arts News:

"Jonathan Monk: yesterday today tomorrow etc"
2006-02-25 until 2006-04-16
Kunstverein Hannover
Hannover, , DE

The Kunstverein Hannover presents the first comprehensive German solo exhibition by the British artist Jonathan Monk (born 1969) who lives in Berlin. Monk's works play irritating games with language and imagination based on a principle of repetition and critical appropriation relating to pivotal artworks and artistic concepts of the 20th century. However, they are in no way reflections of a self-centred l’art pour l’art: In addition to his own life, Monk's points of reference are the routine and the profane.

His photographs, drawings, objects, installations, and films reproduce existing works and models, follow up on them, reinterpret them, and counteract them. His references range from Piet Mondrian to Sol LeWitt and Richard Serra to Dan Flavin as well as Alighiero Boetti. The demands for autonomy and the strict regulations aimed at objectivity inherent in Concept Art and Minimal Art during the 1960s and 1970s form the co-ordinate system for his reflections, which often combine elements from his own biography and personal environment.

Lightness, irony, as well as a sometimes endearing, sometimes biting disrespect characterise Monk's dealings with art historical reference works. They can be subversively profane or offensively shameless as for example when the artist urinates on a sculpture by Richard Serra, preserving the act in a photograph that he then entitled "In war time, this would be a tank (Pissing on Serra)", 1995. As in this case, Monk often confronts the ideally conceived constructs of Concept and Minimal Art with an irreverent reality.

Language and titles are of crucial importance in this regard. As opposed to Lawrence Weiner's dictum, "the piece does not have to be realised„, Monk consistently forces ideas and thoughts coined by himself or by others into concrete material forms. In "Constantly moving whilst standing still", 2005, for example, a linguistic paradox is translated into an object. It comprises an upside-down bicycle with two wheels that roll for some unexplainable reason in different directions. In spite of the permanent movement, forward movement is made impossible.

Notwithstanding Monk's total concreteness, the repudiation of all unambiguity and commitment is a central aspect of his artistic strategy. Monk is more concerned with questions than with answers, for example the answer to the question about the definition of art. What does it promise and what promises does it (thankfully) not keep? The meaning and importance of authorship is also a primary question. The fact that the artist often delegates the realisation of his works to others is symptomatic for Monk's relationship to his own authorship. He even occasionally deliberately oversees the setting up of his exhibitions from a distance, allowing the interpretations of third persons to influence and alter the original concept. By consciously taking the incalculable elements of their realisation into account, Monk fundamentally tests the artist's authorship even more thoroughly than Minimal and Concept artists during the 1960s and 1970s for whom this was also a fundamental question.

Jonathan Monk was born in Leicester in 1969, studied at the Glasgow School of Arts from 1988 to 1991, and has lived in Berlin since 1999. The exhibition in the Kunstverein Hannover is the first comprehensive overviewof Jonathan Monk's worfs from the early 1990s to 2005 to be shown in Germany. In addition, the artist will include new pieces created especially for the exhibition Hannover. After the premiere in Hannover, the exhibition will travel to the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (27 May to 13 August 2006) and the Kunsthalle Nuremberg (7 September to 5 November 2006).

The exhibition will be accompanied by catalogue published by revolver-verlag in Frankfurt/M., c.160 pages, German/English, with texts by Stephan Berg, Konrad Bitterli, Douglas Fogle, Jonathan Monk, and Ellen Seifermann, Price: 27 € (22 € for members).

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