Thursday, April 29, 2021

Jonathan Monk, People Looking at Art, Fifth Syllable, UK, 2021, ed. 50

Monk is a Berlin-based Brit appropriationist/conceptual artist, with all of his works displaying a sly wit that declares originality is a thing of the past. This accordion amply illustrates this artistic strategy, with the following text tucked inside of the back page: "A selection of images taken from social media of people looking at art, found and chosen by Jonathan Monk."

Of course one of the ironic aspects of this work is that you never get to see the 'art' that the people are looking at. Indeed, what is really on display is the way people hold themselves in front of a work of art, and what kind of pose they adopt. In this process the viewers become the viewed, and unwittingly they become the art, that we the reader experience when we look at this book of People Looking at Art.

Despite the communitarian connotations to Monk's use of 'people' in this context the book is troublingly elitist, this is evident in its ridiculously small print edition, positioning it as a player in the economics of scarcity — naturally the book is already sold out!

Here's a link to an interesting 2016 interview with Monk in which he discusses his artistic strategies and some of his works: Jonathan Monk Interview: An Original Twist

ps: I wouldn't mind having a chat with Monk myself!

30 pages, single-sided, individual pages 5.5" x 4", and when fully open 10ft.

back cover

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