Every Building on the Sunset Strip / None of the Buildings on Sunset Strip

May 24 - June 22 2013

Galleri Nicolai Wallner is pleased to present an exhibition of works by Ed Ruscha and Jonathan Monk.

Jonathan Monk was based in Los Angeles from 1997 to 1999, a move that would prove to be highly influential to his practice. While living in Los Angeles, Monk became fascinated with the mythology of the city—both in terms of its connection with art and otherwise. His subject matter turned increasingly towards documenting the city. During this stay in Los Angeles, Monk created several important works, notably None of the Buildings on Sunset Strip.

Ruscha’s seminal artbook Every Building On The Sunset Strip (1966) captures a two and a half mile section of Sunset Boulevard. Focusing specifically on the facades of the buildings, Ruscha documented the Strip with a rigorous, institutional approach, writing the address of each building under its respective picture. The work ignored the human element of the Strip, with cars and people often obscured or cut in half by the edge of the photograph. The work as a result strictly reflects its title, capturing nothing more than every building located on the Sunset Strip.

Monk’s work None of the Buildings on the Sunset Strip takes Every Building On the Sunset Strip as inspiration. The work maintains the stylistic elements of Ruscha’s piece—the photographs are black and white, and emulate the formulaic way in which Ruscha chose to photograph the street—yet the focus of Monk’s piece is precisely what Ruscha chose to leave out. Instead of literally photographing the facade, Monk chose to photograph the spaces that lie between the buildings on the Sunset Strip.

By systematically photographing what Ruscha omitted, Monk brings attention to the eye of the artist, and the power that the artist holds over the interpretation of a subject matter. In so doing, the viewer is asked to question the veracity of Ruscha’s interpretation, and the choices that he made in the exclusion of elements in his work.

Both aesthetically and conceptually Monk situates himself as part of a tradition and draws upon a vocabulary firmly rooted in the Conceptual Art of the late 1960s and 70s. Though obviously with a tongue in cheek for the classical era of Conceptual art, Monk’s work also deftly challenges the notions of originality and authorship still present in art. His art suggests ways of rethinking both the traditional role of the artist and the creative process in general.

In this exhibition, we will be showing thirty-three photographs from Monk’s project None of the Buildings on Sunset Strip alongside a first edition of Ruscha’s Every Building On the Sunset Strip that has been expanded as to show all eight meters of the content of the book. The result is a complimentary, yet juxtaposing look at one of the most iconic streets in North America.

Jonathan Monk (b. 1969) has shown extensively around the world, with notable exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Saatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe (Karlsruhe), Martin-Gropius-Bau (Berlin), MoMA (New York), Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Musee d’art moderne (Paris), SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (Ghent), Casino Luxembourg (Luxembourg), Tate Modern (London), Tate Britain (London) and Whitney Museum of American Art (New York). Monk has also showed at the 50th and the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2003 and in 2009 respectively.