Following on from Mark Wallinger’s re-working of Michelangelo’s ‘Creation of Adam’ in yesterday’s sequence, we arrive today at the work of an artist who has made a career out of carefully considered appropriation and re-invention of other artist’s ideas. For the last 30 years Jonathan Monk has used wit, irony and a razor-sharp, if irreverent, intelligence to re-think the histories of conceptualism and minimalism through his own subtle twists on the original works.
The reference point for the work that Jonathan has nominated for ‘the Unseen Masterpiece’ is Alighiero Boetti’s ‘Mappa’ series – 150 maps of the world made from 1971-1994 embroidered by hand in Afghanistan and Pakistan which track the geopolitical changes of the late 20th century. But in place of Boetti’s beautifully embroidered flags of national identity, Monk gives us a collage of high visibility safety vests suggestive of cross-border authority and the thwarted passage of refugees. It’s an image that seems especially apt in the current moment.
Jonathan Monk took part in ‘8 days’ our 2007 series of artist pairings, alongside Keith Arnatt, with a re-staging of Arnatt’s seminal 1971 wall painting KEITH ARNATT IS AN ARTIST, a work he subsequently revisited and updated (with a change of tense) following Arnatt’s death in 2008 as a memorial to Arnatt on our ‘Billboard for Edinburgh’ site in the Spring of 2010.