Jonathan Monaghan: Police State Disco
January 22 – March 3, 2018
Jonathan Monaghan: Police State Disco includes new sculptural, video, and print works by the DC-based artist. Drawing on a range of aesthetic references, such as surveillance technology and corporate architecture, Monaghan offers a disquieting vision of reality camouflaged by the seductive aesthetics of commercial media.
The exhibition’s centerpiece, Disco Beast, is an 18-minute video installation following a psychedelic unicorn through abandoned yet opulent consumer environments. Rendered meticulously by the artist using 3D computer animation techniques, the beast wanders glossy landscapes in a hyper-capitalist dystopia. In the video’s climax, an omnipotent cell phone charging station immobilizes the unicorn. Its lifeless body resurrects in a coffee shop bathroom, where the film began, restarting an inescapable cycle.
This dystopian tone also characterizes Police State Condo, a series of sculptural print works. Surveillance cameras, security checkpoints, and ATM machines blend with designer fabrics and penthouse views to create ominous vignettes reminiscent of advertisements for high-end condominiums. For Monaghan, who grew up in Queens, NY, this series is a response to the rampant luxury development in New York, Washington DC, and elsewhere.
Though the work alludes to a critique of material-driven lifestyles, it celebrates materiality in its demonstration of the artist’s devotion to craft in a variety of media. Monaghan painstakingly designs the lighting and architectures in his video and print work to hyper-realistically mimic lavish textures, which also can be seen in his sculpture. The leather-like surface of Unicorn In Bondage was carved from marble using robotic milling techniques, with hand finishing by the artist at the foot of a quarry in Italy.
The works in Police State Disco allude to an sinister, unrealized reality beyond the alluring symbolisms of technology and hygienic consumerism. Monaghan’s world offers no exit from its own spectacle, leaving the viewer to cope only with impenetrable glistening veneers.
About the Artist
Jonathan Monaghan (b. 1986, New York) works across print, sculpture, and video installation. He combines bizarre, yet compelling narratives with imagery using high-end technology employed in Hollywood and the video gaming industry. Monaghan received his BFA from the New York Institute of Technology in 2008 and his MFA from the University of Maryland in 2011. He recently was awarded the Ruby Award for “Best in Show” at this year’s Trawick Prize.
Monaghan’s print series, After Fabergé is currently the subject of a unique solo exhibition where his works are displayed alongside original Fabergé eggs at The Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Other exhibitions include New Frontiers at the Sundance Film Festival, and The Frist Center for the Visual Art. His work has been featured in The Washington Post, VICE, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post, and The Village Voice.