New York—Pace Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition by Nina Katchadourian featuring Monument to the Unelected (2008–ongoing), a set of lawn signs created by the artist featuring the names of every candidate who ran for President of the United States and lost. These campaign signs are installed throughout the south wall of the expansive library at Pace's 540 West 25th Street space, among some 10,000 art historical volumes and a vast repository of archival materials and catalogues produced over the gallery's six-decade history. The exhibition will run from September 18 to December 12, spanning the time before and after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Concurrently, Monument to the Unelected is also being exhibited across three other locations: SMoCA in Scottsdale, Grand Central Arts in Santa Ana, and at Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco.
Monument to the Unelected was originally commissioned by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in 2008 for the museum's 10th anniversary exhibition. Katchadourian visited Scottsdale and Phoenix during the run-up to the 2008 presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain. The artist was struck by the proliferation of campaign signs that sprouted up on lawns, in vacant lots, and at busy intersections in what has historically been a swing state. 'The signs struck me as a particularly American phenomenon, and one that was worthy of closer investigation,' Katchadourian said. 'After an election, many of the losing candidates' names become completely unfamiliar to us. An election sign always carries with it a political opinion, but paradoxically, Monument to the Unelected lets us consider us our collective political road not taken from a peculiarly non-partisan viewpoint.'
The signs are printed on corrugated plastic sheets using the same commercial production methods as common election signage. Working with New York-based graphic designer Evan Gaffney, all the signs are designed in a contemporary design vernacular, many of them borrowing directly from the designs that Katchadourian encountered in Scottsdale. Though the project spans centuries of presidential races, each sign looks modern, as if it could have been made in the past few decades.
Monument to the Unelected has been exhibited during every presidential cycle since 2008—both on public sites as well as in museums and galleries. In 2012, when Mitt Romney lost to incumbent Barack Obama, the artist exhibited Monument to the Unelected in Connecticut, Washington DC, and Brooklyn. In 2016, she displayed the installation outside the historic Lefferts House in Brooklyn's Prospect Park, adding a sign after Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump. Now, incumbent Donald Trump faces off against Joe Biden, and once this year's election results have been determined, the 59th loser's sign will be added to the group.
Nina Katchadourian is an interdisciplinary artist whose work includes video, performance, sound, sculpture, photography, and public projects. Her video Accent Elimination was included in the 2015 Venice Biennale as part of the Armenian pavilion, which won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. Exhibitions have included shows at the Serpentine Gallery, Turner Contemporary, de Appel, Palais de Tokyo, Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, Turku Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, ICA Philadelphia, Brooklyn Museum, Artists Space, SculptureCenter, MoMA, and MoMA PS1. Katchadourian has been widely published nationally and internationally, including a monograph, Sorted Books, published by Chronicle Books in 2013.
Katchadourian completed a commission entitled Floater Theater for the Exploratorium in San Francisco in 2016 which is now permanently on view. In 2016 Katchadourian created Dust Gathering, an audio tour on the subject of dust, for the Museum of Modern Art as part of their program 'Artists Experiment'. Katchadourian's work is in public and private collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Blanton Museum of Art, Morgan Library, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Margulies Collection, and Saatchi Gallery. She has won grants and awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Anonymous Was a Woman Foundation, the Tiffany Foundation, the American-Scandinavian Foundation, Gronqvista Foundation, and the Nancy Graves Foundation. Katchadourian lives and works in Brooklyn and Berlin and she is a Clinical Full Professor on the faculty of NYU Gallatin. She is represented by Catharine Clark Gallery and Pace Gallery.
Press release courtesy Pace Gallery.