Dorota Mytych

MONUMENTAL

ONGOING COLLABORATION WITH MAYA PINDYCK

Two concerns brought us together to make this work: 1. The ways ideas about an object’s size and material can dictate its public sense of significance. 2. The gap between writing and sculpture in many art contexts and the ways writing often gets used to support or explain a work of art. We wanted to disrupt these assumptions and to mobilize an interconnected relationship between sculpture and written language. As a result, we came together to form Monumental, an exhibition that honors the small and the poetic by collapsing ideas around historical importance. The show also dismantles conventional functions of language and opens up possibilities for what language can become.

We begin by presenting viewers with a false narrative that introduces large, historic sculptures documented by a (fictional) art historian Arthur Block and later made into a conceptual work by a (fictional) artist Mary Todotych. This narrative is supported by the presence of blown-up reproductions of photographs of the supposedly historic, large sculptures, which viewers are set up to believe were created to monumentalize a collective loss in France in the late 1800s. As the exhibition continues, the myth unravels, eventually leading viewers to the actual sculptures: small bronzes accompanied by poems of equal measure. In the corner of the room, a recording of an old woman reciting one of the verses can be heard. Together, the poetic bronzes and the sculptural poems create an intimate space for zooming into a quiet body—a body that gestures at unwritten histories of loss.

 
 

Mary Todotych’s statement

Mary Todotych’s conceptual work investigates and manipulates the missing history of a series of bronze, figurative monuments made in France in the late 1800s by an unknown artist. Little seems to have been written about these elegiac monuments. Todotych, however, found photographs of them in historian Arthur Block’s dissertation Form and Feeling (1966), which discusses the overwhelming scale and “uncanny physicality” of the monuments. Block emphasizes how the tremendous size of these public monuments intended to gesture at the immensity of collective loss. Informed by Block’s fragmented account of the giant sculptures and intrigued by their minimally documented and mysterious presence, Todotych creates blown-up reproductions of the book’s photographs to reactivate the historian’s encounter with these monuments and to reconfigure their past. The artist invites the viewer to contemplate the materiality of a monumental body—a body removed through a process of reproduction and sustained through a desire to reanimate and preserve its impact on a past and future public.

 
 

Poems

I.
Air holds everyone visible or not

Where do you find them?
A child’s dress peeking out
Afghan rubble, a woman’s arm between a bulldozer’s spokes,
the beggar wobbling on a stair
in the town square. I’ve lost everything
I could see. Everyone,
wildflowers, leaning their brown faces over the border’s edge.
Amir, I wanted to name you,
but you slipped into the folds
of your mother’s skirt
& disappeared—a ghost’s imprint
made of the stillness of stars.


II.
Return

Before we saw them, we held them—once in a dream, twice in a photograph

sliding across the table (how the hand knew to turn the figure over to another).

Made for water, they first lived
in a pond, shimmering with each wind-made ripple—if I forget you,

you might find me
in the wrong room,
carrying a bowl of cantaloupe.


A woman, crumpled rose, folds over—her loss

appears one morning on a telephone wire, still & startled.

He looks right at her, then stretches to reach the wooden piece. Nebraska City’s frozen tank.
A doll’s green dress peeking from Afghan rubble.


Tell me how the disappeared appear like this. How bodies touch each other like that.

To return again & again
is to yearn for the mossy underbelly:

radiant radius bobbing

a slow memory: the beggar’s song playing in the town square.