In 2019, Kasmin presented an exhibition of new work by James Nares entitled Monuments. This video, which meanders from the city streets of New York to the artist’s studio, was produced on the occasion of the exhibition.
For the series, Nares made wax frottage rubbings of selected stones from New York City’s oldest surviving downtown sidewalks. Made of solid granite and laid almost 200 years ago by immigrant masons, these monolithic slabs were once chiseled with improvised marks and designs to prevent pedestrians from slipping. Such carvings have withstood the erosion of time and foot traffic, leaving a record of free thought and personal markings from the hands and minds of long-forgotten workmen.
Nares brought thes rubbings of these stones back to the studio and gilded them with 22-carat gold. Hanging vertically on the wall, they are shining monuments to those the artist calls, “the unknown souls whose touch still lingers on the city’s sidewalks.”
Continuing Nares’ lifelong investigation into motion, time and gesture—the central conceits of Nares’ artistic production—these works register the topography of the city which has acted as protagonist and collaborator throughout his oeuvre, notably in films such as Ramp (1976) and STREET (2011). Tracing the materiality of lower Manhattan, where Nares has lived and worked since the 1970s, the works spotlight immigrant labor and its integral place in the fabric of the city.
Monuments went on view at 509 West 27th Street between May 23 – June 29, 2019. To visit the exhibition’s Online Viewing Room, click here.