LigoranoReese: The American Dream
November 6, 2020 – February 14, 2021
LigoranoReese, Truth Be Told, 2018, Photograph. Courtesy of the Artists and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco, CA.
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In this immaterial age, ice is the perfect material for sculpting the impact of seemingly invisible, yet strongly felt forces that impact our worlds everyday.
Words like life, liberty, and truth are cornerstones of America’s ideology. These words carry with them the weight of our country’s history, our current political climate, and an uncharted future. New York-based artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese, who collaborate as LigoranoReese, investigate the meaning of these ideals by making them tangible, using ice to create sculptures which they call “temporary monuments.” From the moment the monuments are erected, it’s hard to predict the timing of their inevitable fate – which letters will crumble first, how long the words will remain, or if the touch of a passerby will shape their longevity. Ice, by its very nature, is a time-based material that brings with it certain decay.
These site-specific sculptures call for a reckoning with the tenets of the 21st century. By placing the sculptures in specific social and political sites, they both question the presence of the ideals embodied in the words, and over time, imply impending danger. Their departure is a consequence of temperature over time and, metaphorically, a result of the impact of decades of our nation’s history and social policies. The artists document the melting away of their sculptures and the public’s interactions with them, creating still and moving images of broken words and pieces of letters to capture the sculptures’ slow disappearance. The American Dream includes video documentation of three LigoranoReese temporary monuments.
LigoranoReese, Dawn of the Anthropocene, 2015. Video, 4:23 min. Courtesy of the Artists
A 3,500 pound ice sculpture of the words THE FUTURE was installed on September 14, 2014 at the People’s Climate March in New York. Dawn of the Anthropocene video compresses the 11-hour event into four minutes. The title references Nobel prize scientist Paul Crutzen’s theory on the effect of humanity on the Earth’s systems.
LigoranoReese, A Thousand Cuts from Morning In America, 2012. Video, 2:29 min. Courtesy of the Artists
On June 18, 2011 LigoranoReese presented the words MIDDLE CLASS in the garden of Jim Kempner Fine Art in New York. The time-lapse video of this piece includes a soundtrack of an excerpt of Senator Bernie Sanders’ eight-hour filibuster on the US Senate floor against the Bush tax cuts that would ultimately have a major impact on the middle class.
LigoranoReese, Truth Be Told, 2019. Video, 2:27 min. Courtesy of the Artists
On the one year anniversary of the Trump administration, the word TRUTH was erected on the National Mall in front of the US Capitol. The piece Truth Be Told documents the melting of this sculpture and includes a soundtrack of statements by Donald Trump involving the Russia investigation and obstruction of justice, that have since been proven to be untrue.
Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese collaborate as LigoranoReese. Their artwork examines society through images and sound from print, television, internet, and radio. They have exhibited at the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Biennial of Contemporary Art in Cartagena, Colombia, Catharine Clark Gallery, Kent Fine Art, Portland Art Museum, MIT MediaLab, Museum of Arts & Design, New York Public Library, and Lincoln Center. They have received funding from the Jerome Foundation, Puffin Foundation, NYFA, NYSCA, NEA, and been in residence at the MacDowell Colony, Montalvo Arts Center, and Djerassi Resident Artists Program. They are represented by Catharine Clark Gallery.