On January 21st, MOCA, in collaboration with local musicians and artists, launched a one-year long program: Monument. A brainchild of LA based musicians and curators, Monument aims at merging music and art, bringing sound artists to the museum to respond and reflect on the MOCA’s current exhibitions and collection. Monument's programmers – Brian Simon, Nick Malkin, and Santi Vernetti – shared with Museeum their expectations, their vision and the concept behind Monument.
"More than envisioning a specific kind of event, we wanted to create the conditions that would allow artists the freedom to be part of the conversation about what shape MONUMENT should take. We want to create a space for musicians and sound artists to respond sonically to the museum, its galleries, the art works that hang on its walls, and the audiences that move through it."
“It isn’t meant to be experienced like chamber music or a sound art installation. The hope is that people will encounter the performances, linger for as long as their hearts desire, and then carry on through to the other galleries. We are intentionally keeping the format loose so that depending on the performer and where they decide to play the result could be anything from relaxed and atmospheric to an exciting and surprising intervention.“
“The core facet behind Monument is sound as response to work in MOCA’s Permanent Collection. Naturally, each performer will have different reactions and approaches to the piece they choose. The aim is to have each performance act as an abstract dialogue with the museum and its collection. “
As announced in the program, Monument is inspired by Dan Flavin’s Monument, which in its turn was inspired by Tatlin’s technology and progress driven creative practice. Simon explains:
“Flavin’s Monument derives ideas from Tatlin’s early interest in the intersection of art and technology. This crossing is currently happening in every creative field. The development and propagation of ambient music over the past 30+ years is a prime example of art and technology coming together to illicit new results. It was also the ambient glow of the Flavin piece, combined with the pristine acoustics of MOCA’s Grand Avenue galleries that inspired us to move into the direction of ambient music.“
For the first installment, programmers invited a four-piece band of acoustic instruments performed by Yvette Holzworth, Jon-Kyle Mohr, Sam Gendel as well as Anenon who is both performer and curator of the Monument. Celia Hollander ($3.33) performed a laptop-oriented set.
Monument is a unique opportunity to immerse in the LA’s experimental music scene. In our previous feature we already wrote about KCHUNG radio residency at the Hammer Museum.
Nick Malkin (Monument) was involved with KCHUNG Radio hosting a weekly show in collaboration with Maxfield Hegedus. “The residency at the Hammer was an interesting and exciting time for the station, as it really required a lot of communication and logistical muscle to pull it off. It probably subconsciously informed a decision or two in structuring Monument.”
"LA has always been a magnet for artists working at the forefront of creative exploration and experimentation, maybe the magnates are just finally catching on and buying in," - Nick Malkin.
“When we began assembling our shortlist of participating musicians, it was important for us to choose those who we felt worked from the fringes of LA's experimental and electronic music scenes. An institution like MOCA can lend a certain legitimacy to a performance, so it's nice to be able to offer that to artists who perhaps haven't typically played in such an environment. The highlight, for me, will be in the completely varied nature of the performances. The tone, timbre and approach will shift throughout the series.”
“Our hope is to frame the importance of visual art and sound co-existing in a way that enriches our lives. We also wish to shine the light on artists with a sensitivity to this impulse who are working under the radar in Los Angeles. The ultimate hope is that future iterations of MONUMENT will able to expand to include artists outside of Los Angeles. It would be great to bring some international talent to one of this city’s greatest cultural hubs. Of course, that requires an enormous amount of support, but we have already received a great deal of positive. The museum’s main expectation for the program is that artists and audiences alike will be able to see and hear the museum with fresh eyes and ears as a place that is active and alive and is interested in finding exciting ways to bring artists into conversation with its collection. MOCA is, after all, “the artist’s museum”.
If you are interested in being a part of the Monument, want to know more about the LA electronic music scene, or experience the MOCA’s art on view from a different perspective, stay connected and don’t miss the next installment of the Monument.