Installation view, Nina Katchadourian: Monument to the Unelected, Sep 18 – Dec 12, 2020, Pace Gallery, New York © Nina Katchadourian


Nina Katchadourian

Monument to the Unelected

Recorded on November 14, 2020

Nina Katchadourian’s Monument to the Unelected 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.

On Saturday, November 14, following the announcement of the results of the 2020 Presidential election, Katchadourian invited eight first-time voters, one at each location where the work is currently being exhibited, to add the 59th sign to the installation.

Learn more about Nina Katchadourian

Mark Beasley (MB): Hello and good afternoon. I'm Mark Beasley, the curatorial director of Pace Live here at Pace Gallery, and I'm joining you from New York City. We're here today to carry out the last step of (opens in a new window) Nina Katchadourian’s installation, (opens in a new window) Monument to the Unelected. There are eight sites in all that are exhibiting the project this election cycle. In New York, the work is on view at Pace’s (opens in a new window) 540 West 25th Street location until December 12th. I'm joined now by seven other representatives from the institutions who are currently staging this work. I will ask them now to introduce themselves, starting on the west coast and moving east. Firstly, I'd like to introduce Catharine Clark, the founding director of (opens in a new window) Catharine Clark Gallery and (opens in a new window) BOXBLUR in San Francisco.

Catharine Clark (CC): Thank you, Mark. My name is Catharine Clark and I'm in San Francisco, California, at Catharine Clark Gallery. As the founding director of the gallery and BOXBLUR, which is an initiative to bring visual artwork and performative practices into dialogue, we were really pleased to present (opens in a new window) Monument to the Unelected. While the country was waiting for the election results to be called, the gallery changed exhibitions. So, the installation today is represented by an image of how it looked while installed at the gallery last week. We collaborated with BOXBLUR to produce and present Monument to the Unelected with (opens in a new window) UW-Odyssey at the Abrahamson family home in Madison, Wisconsin, and at Roots Community Health Center in Oakland, California. Many thanks to the donors, including Richard Grossman and Ellie Chin [2:10], who underwrote the project.

MB: Thank you, Catharine. I'd now like to introduce a Acquil Naji, the CEO of (opens in a new window) Roots Community Health Center. Hi Acquil.

Acquil Naji (AN): Good morning. Good afternoon, wherever you are in the world,

MB: Afternoon.

AN: We're here in East Oakland, one of the most despaired places in this town, in California, and the sun happens to be shining on us and the installation today. First and foremost, I would like to thank Richard Grossman and Ellie Chin for the support in putting these installations in. I look forward to the coming days of this. This is also the segue for the arts community in this community, which has no art community. This is our opportunity to build an arts community with the support of Catharine and her galleries and all of you on this line right now.

MB: Thank you, Acquil. Now I'd like to welcome (opens in a new window) John Spiak, the director and chief curator of (opens in a new window) Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana.

John Spiak (JS): Hi, I'm John Spiak from Cal State Fullerton Grand Central Art Center, located in Santa Ana, and we're located here in Orange, California, for the (opens in a new window) installation on the lawn of John and Deb Webb's house. I just want to quickly introduce (opens in a new window) Cassandra Coblentz, who is currently the Senior Curator at the (opens in a new window) Orange County Museum of Art, but at the time in 2008 was curator at (opens in a new window) Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. She is the curator who helped Nina originate the piece when John McCain and Sarah Palin were running against Barack Obama. Thank you.

MB: Thank you. (opens in a new window) Jennifer McCabe, I'd like to introduce you now. Director and Chief Curator there at SMoCA in Scottsdale.

Jennifer McCabe (JM): Thank you so much. I am Jennifer McCabe. I'm coming to you from central Phoenix, Arizona, and I am Director and Chief Curator at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. As the (opens in a new window) originating institution for this work, Monument to the Unelected, we are proud to continue supporting this project and happy to be here today.

MB: Thank you, Jennifer. Next up is (opens in a new window) Emily Auerbach, the Co-director and Founder of Odyssey Project.

Emily Auerbach (EA): Thank you. Yes, my name is Emily Auerbach, I'm in Madison, Wisconsin, founding director of the UW-Odyssey Project, a free, life changing jump-start course in the humanities that empowers adults near the poverty level to overcome adversity and achieve dreams through higher education. Our mission is to encourage civic engagement among marginalized communities. We are proud to have collaborated with BOXBLUR Offsite Productions and the Abrahamson Family Trust to bring Monument to the Unelected to Madison.

MB: Thank you. Now introducing (opens in a new window) Courtenay Finn, the Chief Curator at (opens in a new window) moCa, Cleveland in Ohio.

Courtenay Finn (CF): Hi, everyone. We're really pleased to be presenting (opens in a new window) Monument to the Unelected outside the Museum of Contemporary Art here on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio and in collaboration with (opens in a new window) Transformer Station, also in Cleveland. Right now, installed outside the museum on a busy intersection right outside the museum near the university and hospital. So, we're super pleased.

MB: Thank you, Courtenay. And finally, we have (opens in a new window) Fred Bidwell, Co-founder of Transformer Station, also there in Cleveland. Hi, Fred.

Fred Bidwell (FB): Hi, everyone, I'm speaking to you from inside Transformer Station, we're so pleased to have Monument to the Unelected presented in our front lawn. Thank you, Nina, and all the supporters who make this happen.

MB: Thank you, Fred. Again, I'm Mark Beasley and I'm here at Pace Gallery, also hosts of Monument to the Unelected, and now I'd like to welcome Nina, our artist and creative mind behind the project and venture. Welcome, Nina.

Nina Katchadourian (NK): Hello, everybody. I'm (opens in a new window) Nina Katchadourian, and I welcome you all to today's gathering. Monument to the Unelected is an artwork commissioned by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, and it has been shown during every presidential election cycle since 2008. It is a series of lawn signs bearing the name of every major party candidate who ever ran for the office of president of the United States and lost. None of the signs are the actual signs used in the past election campaigns. They have all been designed anew in a contemporary design vernacular. Monument to the Unelected is exhibited both before and after each election. Once the election results have been called, the sign with the name of the newest losing candidate is added to the group. This is our task today.

During the 2020 election cycle Monument to the Unelected has been on view in more places than ever before, and I want to extend my thanks and deep appreciation to all the organizers, participants and hosting institutions that have helped make this virtual gathering possible, as well as all the viewers who are present at this moment. Thank you for joining us. I am perhaps most grateful to the group of individuals you are about to meet, all of whom have voted for the first time in this election, and who have agreed to share a few words with us after placing the newest sign into the group. I will now ask that we go live to all eight of the sites where our first-time voters are standing by. Voters, would you now please place the new sign into the installation? Looks like we are there. I am now going to ask each of the voters to say a few words, I'm going to introduce them, moving again through the locations from west to east coast, and I've asked each of our first-time voters to address the following question, what do you think will change in your life and for your communities in the next four years? We're going to start with Susie Opare in San Francisco.

Suzie Opare (SO): Thank you, Nina. As a newly minted citizen and first-time voter, it's a real honor to be part of this project. This is a great testimony to democracy, one of our most brilliant inventions. Like millions of communities across the world, 2020 has been an extremely challenging year for us here in the Bay area. We've had to deal with the combined effects of COVID-19 and record-breaking wildfires. It's been really tough on our community, and there's been a lot of pain and a lot of loss. And many times, it's been literally hard to be [10:13]. But on a personal level, everything we've gone through has confirmed in me the resilience and goodness of the human spirit, and such an operation for the courage of the frontlines. Many of us have had an opportunity to shift our work-life balance in positive ways and to have the opportunity to truly believe in the next four years, our lives will be profoundly changed for the better, because of this experience, I think will be kinder to our planet, have greater respect for each other and more love for the bonds of community, friendship, and family. I do think science will triumph over this violence. And in 2021, my wife and I will be able to hug our friends, hang out with people we love without fear. I'm also looking forward to seeing my eighty-three year old mom sometime next year. She lives in England and I haven't seen her in a whole year. I wish you all the best for the next four years. Thank you.

NK: Thank you, Susie. We're going to go now to Keenan Smith in Oakland, California.

Keenan Smith (KS): Hello, I am hopeful for the future and encouraged that the enthusiasm of voting this year will engage the community and lift us more into the light, into public policy and be able to benefit us in a more positive note in the future. Thank you.

NK: Thank you, Keenan. We're moving now to Lesly Bautista, who is in Orange, California.

Lesly Bautista (LB): Hi, I'm Lesly Bautista. In the next four years, I know my health will be prioritized. I know that we will be closer to a cleaner earth and a more sustainable environment. As a woman, I know I will be less fearful of what my rights will look like. And I know that I am inspired, and this election was proof that women are capable of anything. I know that as a Latina, my community has hope for families to be brought together and for the DREAMers to be able to have back up permanently. There won't be any more uncertainty. There will be more compassion and respect. There is a sense of relief and hopefulness for the next four years and I'm proud of being a part of that change.

NK: Thank you, Leslie. We're going out of Scottsdale, Arizona, to hear from Kasidy Cintron.

Kasidy Cintron (KC): Hi, I'm Kasidy. I'm a first-time voter because I never really believed that my vote mattered before, but this year really showed me why does. I was never educated on the candidates are the whole voting in general when it came to the system, and I believe that that's really important to do, especially after seeing everything go on this year. I would especially like to see the educational system in Arizona change and also just in general for the communities to be in a more kind world. Thank you.

NK: Thank you, Kasidy. Now we're going to Madison, Wisconsin, where Stanley Sallay is going to speak to us.

Stanley Sallay (SS): Hi everybody, I’m Stanley Sallay, Odyssey graduate, 2007. I basically want to say, in the next four years, I honestly don't... I just hope things change for the better. It's been a long time coming for a change in general, so there's no telling how fast or how long change will come. But, you know, not only for Blacks, but for minorities in general, and not only for minorities, but all people to exercise selflessness and consideration because it begins with the president. But when you take into consideration legislation, the legislature and the Senate, and everything else like that should be subject to the same change as well as the presidential seat. But if each individual person, like I said, practice selflessness and consideration, then everybody in everybody as individuals can make a huge change. Thank you.

NK: Thank you, Stanley. Now we're going to Cleveland, Ohio, to hear from Nolan Juaire.

Nolan Juaire (NJ): Hello. My name is Nolan. I'm a music student at American University. Well, it might not be the case that much will change for musicians specifically, I think that this is the first of many steps in the right direction for the endorsement of arts in America. When I visited Japan in 2016, to be honest, I was pretty ashamed to tell people that I was from America. The sentiment of embarrassment on the national stage has only grown over the past four years, and as I hear graduate school, the idea of going international became much less appealing because of that embarrassment, not to mention the current handling of X [16:13]. Our nation still has a lot it still needs to change, which would have been true regardless of the results of the election, but already so many people feel such a relief and a renewed sense of hope for our country, science, for our democracy. Moving forward, I hope the international students and immigrants who come to America to study, work, establish their lives and feel more at ease and safe as they do so. I hope that those who live here will continue to push for radical change to abolish and reform the incredibly twisted and broken systems in place. I hope that through this change we can restore a little faith in our government instead of always feeling at odds with it. There is so much wrong with our country but moving forward, I feel a little more hopeful that we'll start to see some positive change. Record numbers of voter turnout and incredibly increased involvement of younger people in social issues, I think the stage is on its way to being set for a very productive four years. I'd like to finish up by saying our future is not just dependent on the new administration, but all of us as well. Thank you.

NK: Thank you, Nolan. And also from Cleveland, Ohio, we have Raven Navarro.

Raven Navarro (RN): Can you hear me? Hi. My name is Raven, I'm from Cleveland. For the next four years, I hope to achieve everything I aim for academically and professionally. I hope to attain a graduate degree, introduce the next generations to the value of art, the possibilities of art, remove any contaminants from my life that don't hold any value in it. I hope that will ring true for my community the next four years. I hope that the fight for equal inclusion prevails, and I hope that we learn to respect and love each other despite our differences and unite as human beings.

NK: Thank you, Raven. And lastly, we have from Pace in New York, Amanda Burkett.

Amanda Burkett (AB): ... towards holding our leaders accountable and a commitment to understanding and uplifting each other. With this in mind, I see no reason why unifying change cannot occur. Through continuing to learn what America and its people need, there will be a sense of newfound peace for winners and losers. I'm extremely grateful to be a first-time voter in this pivotal moment and to participate in the election.

NK: Thank you, Amanda. Thank you, all voters. Thank you all, signed placers. The signs have now been placed and I would like to ask that we have a close-up on the new sign from each site. I would now like to request a minute of silence as we contemplate the new sign and consider the implications of this election after this minute of silence, this transmission will conclude.

I would like to wish everyone good health and peace in the following four years to come. Thank you for joining us, and see you in four years. I'm going to start the minute now.

  • Films — Nina Katchadourian: Monument to the Unelected, Nov 25, 2020