June 2-July 14
an artistic collaboration between Flux Factory and an entire city.
Opening Party: Saturday, June 2,
4pm at the Paterson Museum, Paterson, NJ
Jean Barberis, Mikey Barringer, Angela Beallor, Jason David Brown, Christine Conforti, Joseph Costa, Giacomo De Stefano, Alita Edgar, eteam, Neil Freeman, Dana Gramp, The Ivanhoe Artists Mosaic of Paterson, Suzanne Joelson, Branden Koch, Don Kommit, Joe Milutis, The Paterson Museum, Leonora Retsas, Joe Ruffilo, Shuli Sade, Ruth Stanford.
I guess the Paterson area is where I had a lot of my contact with quarries and I think that is somewhat embedded in my psyche. As a kid I used to go and prowl around all those quarries. And of course, they figured strongly in Paterson. When I read the poems I was interested in that, especially this one part of Paterson where it showed all the strata levels under Paterson. Sorta proto-conceptual art, you might say. Later on I wrote an article for Artforum on Passaic which is a city on the Passaic River south of Paterson. In a way I think it reflects that whole area. Williams did have a sense of that kind of New Jersey landscape.
Paterson, New Jersey is a special place. Founded as the first planned industrial city by Alexander Hamilton and others, it played a major role in the development of the United States as an industrial powerhouse and economically independent nation. But Paterson has also worked its way into the cultural imagination of the United States. William Carlos Williams wrote an extended lyrical poem in five books, taking Paterson as his title and subject of inquiry. The important American artist Robert Smithson considered Paterson and the surrounding Passaic Valley to be a source of inspiration for his earth works. Indeed, Paterson and the American Imagination seem deeply connected.
Flux Factory explores this connection by organizing a unique art event and exhibit called Paterson. Working in collaboration with the Paterson Museum in Paterson’s historic mill district, Flux has assembled a team of artists, designers, architects, and urban planners who will develop plans for a proposed monument to Paterson. A space set aside for us within the Paterson Museum acts as a monument headquarters and is open to the public on a daily basis. Citizens of Paterson are encouraged to present their ideas, concerns, dreams, and desires to the team. There is also a schedule of open forums, tours, presentations, walks, and parties. For six weeks, members of the team, as well as the general public in Paterson and in the Tri-State area, will have the opportunity to experience Paterson in all its facets.
As in every Flux Factory project, the emphasis is on collaboration and a process that is open-ended by design. Everyone involved will address a central question: What is a monument’s role and how does the establishment of a monument affect a community?
At the end of this six-week period, an official proposal will be presented to the City of Paterson that reflects the experiences, thoughts, and ideas of the team. What happens with the proposal from then on will be the choice of the people of Paterson.
The goal of this project is to develop a plan, through a creative collaborative process, for a monument to Paterson that will be built in Paterson. It is quite possible that this project will culminate in the actual construction of a monument. But in a very real sense, the more important part of the project is the process itself. That is where the ideas and interests of Patersonians and outside artists will be tapped and explored. This is what is most exciting about the project and where it is genuinely unique. There are a lot of energies just beneath the surface of Paterson, both in terms of the hopes and dreams of its residents and in the latent historical memories of the place itself. The Paterson monument proposal will be a focusing point for those hopes and energies.
Sert, Leger, and Giedion wrote in the €˜Nine Points on Monumentality’:
Monuments are the expression of man’s highest cultural needs. They have to satisfy the eternal demand of the people for translation of their collective force into symbols. The most vital monuments are those which express the feeling and thinking of this collective force€”the people.
What is a monument? Is it an ode to bygone days? A celebration of the past or an expression of the future? We think that Paterson will create an artwork out of the process of thinking through these questions. Most fundamentally, this project carries forward an idea of collaboration that animates everything we do at Flux Factory. Flux Factory projects are always about bringing groups of people together in order to create an experience. In this case, the idea of collaboration is being pushed to a whole new level: a collaboration that involves an entire city. Indeed, more than an entire city, since a basic assumption of this project is that Paterson is a lens through which one can discover things about the American experience in general and potentially involve people from all over the world.
As William Carlos Williams once wrote:
Yet there is
no return: rolling up out of chaos,
a nine months’ wonder, the city
the man, an identity€”it can’t be
interpenetration, both ways.
divided as the dew,
floating mists, to be rained down and
regathered into a river that flows
shells and animalcules
generally and so to man,
€˜Paterson‘ is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and Queens Council on the Arts, as well as generous support from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Greenwall Foundation, and Carnegie Corporation of New York.