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Socrates Sculpture Park to Open Exhibit, Puts Two U.S. Presidents in a Different Light

Nona Faustine, ‘In Praise of Famous Men No More,’ 2020 (Image courtesy of the Artist and Socrates Sculpture Park)

July 2, 2020 By Allie Griffin

A timely exhibit examining the role of monuments in American society will debut this summer at a park in Long Island City.

The exhibition ‘MONUMENTS NOW‘ will open this month at Socrates Sculpture Park, located at 32-01 Vernon Blvd., just as historical monuments across the country are being toppled by protesters — spurred by conversations on systemic racism.

Park visitors will first be greeted by a photo piece titled ‘In Praise of Famous Men No More’ on a billboard raised above the park’s main entrance. The piece by Nona Faustine is going up this week and is part of greater exhibit.

It features a photo of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. and a photo of the Theodore Roosevelt monument in front of Manhattan’s Natural History Museum. Each photo is crossed through with a blurred horizontal line.

The work questions the integrity of the iconic monuments of two American presidents, according to its exhibition description.

Two weeks ago, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will remove the same Theodore Roosevelt statue which depicts the late president on a horse next to a Native American man and an African man.

The monument has drawn ire from many who say it symbolizes a dark history of racism and colonialism. The police killing of George Floyd and protests against racism motivated the museum to propose its removal.

Other artwork in the exhibit will highlight underrepresented groups and histories, such as queer, Indigenous and Black narratives, that rarely have been honored with monuments.

Commissioned sculptures by artists Jeffrey Gibson, Paul Ramírez Jonas and Xaviera Simmons will be on display as Part I of the exhibit — beginning with Gibson’s on July 10.

Jeffrey Gibson; Rendering of ‘Because Once You Enter My House It Becomes Our House’ at Socrates Sculpture Park; 2020; (Courtesy of the Artist, Socrates Sculpture Park, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; Kavi Gupta, Chicago; Roberts Projects, Los Angeles.)

Gibson’s large-scale pyramid sculpture celebrates Indigenous Mississippian culture, architecture, activist graphics and queer performance.

Parts II and III of the ‘MONUMENTS NOW’ exhibition will open on October 10. Part II will feature artwork selected through an open call application process and Part III will display a project created by local Queens high school students.

The full exhibit will be on display through March 2021.

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