Socrates Sculpture Park is pleased to present Temple of Dionysos, 2009, a new work by artist Pentti Monkkonen. The installation is part of the Park’s ongoing series called Open Space, a forum for single artist and collaborative projects that run concurrently with Socrates’ group exhibitions. Temple of Dionysos will be on view in the Park from May 10 through August 2, 2009, and will open on Sunday, May 10 from 2-6pm, with a joint reception for Open Space and Socrates’ spring exhibition, State Fair.
Temple of Dionysos is a sculpture that is part cargo boat, part neoclassical temple. The deck of the boat doubles as a stage; its crane serves as a deus ex machina, or “god from the machine”. In ancient Greek theatre, a crane was used to lower actors who played gods onto the stage, serving as a device to expeditiously resolve conflict in drama.
For the opening reception on May 10, Pentti Monkkonen will invite willing audience members to sit on a chair attached to a crane on the ship’s deck, which will then be lifted by manipulating weights on the other end.
The shape of the boat deck begins with the formal semi circle of the amphitheater, which is elongated and bounded with another semi circle at its stern. This simple geometry reflects the purely utilitarian, “machine esthetic” of cargo boats. At the base of the semi circular wheel house, there is a frieze of longshoremen carrying crates. The combination of the “machine esthetic” and the neoclassical frieze recalls 1930’s art and architecture which purposefully glorified the worker.
Dionysos is the god of theatre and it was for the Dionysic festivals that the first written plays were performed. This modern Temple of Dionysos does not serve as a stage for a specific performance; instead it gives the viewer an experience akin to walking onto an empty stage. One may wonder at performances past, or experience a heighted self awareness under the gaze of an invisible crowd.
Socrates Sculpture Park was an abandoned riverside landfill and illegal dumpsite until 1986 when a coalition of artists and community members, under the leadership of sculptor Mark di Suvero, transformed it into an open studio and exhibition space for artists and a neighborhood park for local residents. Today, it is an internationally renowned outdoor museum that also serves as a vital New York City park offering a wide variety of free public programs. The Park’s existence is based on the belief that reclamation, revitalization and creative expression are essential to the survival, humanity and improvement of our urban environment, and serves as a laboratory where experimentation and innovation expand, reinvent and redefine the tradition of art in public spaces.
Socrates Sculpture Park is open free of charge, 365 days a year from 10 am to sunset and is located at the intersection of Broadway and Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City. For directions, please visit our website: www.socratessculpturepark.org. For press inquiries, including images for reproduction, please contact Ellen Staller at 718.956.1819 ext. 12 or [email protected]
Funding for Open Space projects has been provided by Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charina Endowment Fund, Mark di Suvero, Thomas Smith Foundation, and Starry Night Fund of Tides Foundation. This exhibition is funded, in part, by public funds from the Visual Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Special thanks to the City of New York, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, City Councilmember Eric Gioia, and the Department of Parks & Recreation, Commissioner Adrian Benepe.