You walk into the gallery and are completely drawn in by the monkey figures arranged on pedestals. They are sitting as if interacting and their overly human eyes are full of emotion. Their bodies are hyper real but also full of fantasy; with growths of pearl and crystal-like substance, bodies become transparent at times, and organs made visible and exposed...
Their humanity is evident in their posturing, their emotive expressions, and the overt sense of fragility in their bodies.
They have a sense of hodge podge construction yet also feel expertly created. The anti-aesthetic made beautiful. There are also a few photographs on the wall that I could have done without. Then you step into the back room where there is a video playing. The video shows the interactions of these creatures- from their animalistic nature, to love, to birth. It is moving, compelling, and repulsive all at once.
The press release states this:
To endow a creature with the power of motion is to bring it, partially, imperfectly, to life. Monica Cook’s monkey-creatures are animated by some very wild magic. Cursed by their creator with deeply corrupted bodies, with scarred skin and secret interiors, with pustules and orifices and inconvenient fluids, these creatures are uncomfortably, undeniably alive. And in their imperfection, they are not only individual, they are beautiful. Volley is a love story, in a sense it is the Love Story, that grand tale which we never cease to applaud: The brutality of biological lust tempered by the delicate delusions of adoration. Cook’s beast beings inhabit a world the colors of spun sugar and wedding mints, where rutting lust and infinite tenderness are indivisible. A mutant monkey with too-human eyes strokes a contented wolf-puppy who dreams of devouring entrails. A perfect luminous monkey-goddess hovers unapproachably, bedecked in lewd sequins. Idealized passions fuse with the violence of birth. Cook renders the sufferings and and storms of biological life with loving, unflinching regard, inviting the viewer to both voyeurism and self-reflection.
I would say that for me the sculptures are powerful in themselves and I preferred them as an experience but the video makes you look at the figures in a more layered and complicated way.
Worth walking the few extra blocks to 19th street to see. And visit it her website to see more of her incredible work.