Unpacking Double Monuments, Part 2

Installation view_Photo Rhiannon Newman

Installation view of Bettina Pousttchi’s Double Monuments. Photo: Rhiannon Newman

This is a multi-part blog post; Read Part 1 here.

Pousttchi’s Double Monuments at the Phillips soar toward the ceiling as Tatlin’s did, but his model was symbolic of larger things to come. If constructed, his glass and iron sculpture would have been 1,300 feet (about 300 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower). The model was meant to promote “the collective” and (re)establish the visual culture of Russia. Pousttchi’s Double Monuments aren’t necessarily commenting on that idea, but much of their power and meaning is drawn from that history.

Pousttchi uses Dan Flavin’s trademark fluorescent tubes to expand that history. In the 1960s, American artist Dan Flavin utilized neon tubes to explore minimalism and the role of art in the gallery. Interestingly, he created a series responding to Tatlin’s monument. Pousttchi disrupts Dan Flavin’s minimalist language and places fluorescent tubes within bent metal crowd barriers. She simultaneously comments on Flavin’s homage and removes a key element of Flavin’s works; her fluorescent lights are not alone in a gallery space as Flavin’s are, but rather are enveloped by the skeleton of Tatlin’s monument.

Tatlin sought to usher in a new era of Russian visual culture and politics. Flavin was attempting to disrupt the idea of the gallery. Pousttchi comments on history and the work that came before to explore her own ambitions and artistic practice.

Emma Kennedy, Marketing & Communications Intern

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