LONG ISLAND CITY, NY.- Socrates Sculpture Park
will present Temple of Dionysos, 2009, a new work by artist Pentti Monkkonen. The installation is part of the Parks ongoing series called Open Space, a forum for single artist and collaborative projects that run concurrently with Socrates group exhibitions. Temple of Dionysos will be on view in the Park from May 10 through August 2, 2009, and will open on Sunday, May 10 from 2-6pm, with a joint reception for Open Space and Socrates spring exhibition, State Fair.
Temple of Dionysos is a sculpture that is part cargo boat, part neoclassical temple. The deck of the boat doubles as a stage; its crane serves as a deus ex machina, or "god from the machine". In ancient Greek theatre, a crane was used to lower actors who played gods onto the stage, serving as a device to expeditiously resolve conflict in drama.
The shape of the boat deck begins with the formal semi circle of the amphitheater, which is elongated and bounded with another semi circle at its stern. This simple geometry reflects the purely utilitarian, machine esthetic of cargo boats. At the base of the semi circular wheel house, there is a frieze of longshoremen carrying crates. The combination of the machine esthetic and the neoclassical frieze recalls 1930s art and architecture which purposefully glorified the worker.
Dionysos is the god of theatre and it was for the Dionysic festivals that the first written plays were performed. This modern Temple of Dionysos does not serve as a stage for a specific performance; instead it gives the viewer an experience akin to walking onto an empty stage. One may wonder at performances past, or experience a heighted self awareness under the gaze of an invisible crowd.