Nina Katchadourian: Monument to the Unelected
Concurrently at moCa Cleveland: 11400 Euclid Avenue and Transformer Station: 1460 W 29th Street
Artist Nina Katchadourian (b. 1968) works across various media—including photography, sculpture, video, and sound—using humor and ingenuity in service of what she calls “productive confusion.” Often working outside the studio or museum, Katchadourian has created pieces in libraries, in trees, on airplanes, and in parking lots. She has collaborated with zookeepers, musicians, United Nations translators, Morse code operators, animals, as well as her own parents. The result is a playful and poignant practice, one that pushes us to see our everyday surroundings as a site of discovery and possibility.
Katchadourian’s Monument to the Unelected (2008–ongoing), is 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. Installed outside moCa Cleveland on the corner of Mayfield Road and Euclid Avenue, and outside Transformer Station in their front lawn, Monument to the Unelected runs from October 22 to November 22, spanning the time before and after the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Once the election results are official, a 59th sign with the name of the losing candidate will be added to the installation.
Monument to the Unelected was originally commissioned by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art during the run-up to the 2008 presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain. During her time in Arizona, Katchadourian was struck by the proliferation of campaign signs 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,” she said. “These markers tend to crop up in the weeks leading up to an election, after which they disappear, with some of the names going on to take office and others being largely forgotten.”
Shown during every presidential election since the work’s inception in 2008, Monument to the Unelected serves as a reminder of our country’s collective political road not taken. It does not reflect any particular political viewpoint or endorse any specific party, but rather articulates the transition of power within U.S. history. As a monument to those who have lost, Katchadourian’s work is an invitation to consider missed opportunities and alternative histories, all of which can inform the decisions we make today.
Monument to the Unelected 2008–ongoing
58 screen-prints on coroplast, rebar, cable
Courtesy the artist, Catherine Clark Gallery, and Pace Gallery