Welcome to Ridgewood, Queens
[Editors note: Jennifer Sullivan is an interdisciplinary artist who works in video, performance, painting, installation and projects that combine all of these elements. Born in Albany, NY, Sullivan currently lives and works in Ridgewood, NY. She has exhibited widely, at venues such as The Kitchen, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, NADA, Klaus von Nichtsaggend Gallery, and the New Museum in New York, and at Raid Projects, and Telic Arts Exchange in Los Angeles. This fall, she will be an artist is residence at Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, NY]
Houdini's Grave, Machpelah Cemetery -- Ridgewood's most glamorous monument
The Fruit Fountain Monument, located outside of Rachel's Garden, the new 24-hour market in town.
Today our unsophisticated cameras record in their own way our hastily assembled and painted world. — Vladimir Nabokov
I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirrors or Coke bottles are ugly. Because they're surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable. – Robert Rauschenberg
This February, I moved to Ridgewood, Queens, the second to last stop on the M train. Seven months later it's still strange territory to me, but I am growing to like it. I began photographing my neighborhood a couple of weeks after moving into my apartment. I like to half-heartedly pretend I am a tourist visiting a new country, as I document the sights I encounter around town, an attempt to romanticize my feelings of isolation. Ridgewood is filled with many modest, yet idiosyncratic markers and moments. It's a land of hand drawn signage, tchotckes, lawn ornaments, plentiful dollar stores, Persian cucumbers, and old polish ladies. The photographs I've posted here from my staycation travelogue are also in part an homage to A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, Robert Smithson's 1967 conceptual art odyssey to suburban New Jersey.
Smithson's Monuments essay is inspiring for its use of a simple personal experience as a catalyst for altering one's perception of the world. It is both resigned and hopeful — an attempt to embrace things as they are. In the essay, Smithson snapped dreary photographs of industrial markers and renamed them as monuments. Sparked by the term, through imagination they are transformed, yet stay themselves, as ordinary and unremarkable as ever. It is really an invitation to accept things as they are. And though there is irony to it, Smithson's work has always felt like a hopeful gesture to me. It gives me a sense that anything is possible if one decides it to be and points to the choice we have in determining how we respond to our surroundings and our lives.
My friend told me he likes my neighborhood because it is so boring and normal. After having lived closer to Manhattan, it feels exotic to live in such an ordinary and unpretentious place. I never thought I would want to move to a place like Ridgewood, though now I consider myself to be a self-appointed artist in residence and volunteer ambassador. My photographs of the Ridgewood monuments document the details of my neighborhood and within it, the objects of my attention.
The bushy Brown Bonsai Monument
We Do Chinese Food Now (Wow) Monument. This monument hangs in the window of a sushi restaurant.
The majestic Monarch Monument. Her two equally weighted flower pots stand for justice and the aesthetic equality of all things.
The Neopolitan Monument. Named for its layered colors and for the ornamentation on top which resembles an ice cream sundae.
The Precious Moments Monument, an ever-evolving monument to sentimentality and white people.
The Venetian Blinds Monument - Who knows what mysteries lurk behind its slatted veil?
The Polish Restaurant Monument — An important Ridgewood landmark
This monument offers Polish Karaoke on weekend nights from 9 PM to 3 AM. I have peered in the window, but have not yet gathered the courage to investigate the late-night scene.
Polish Restaurant Monument detail: Two elfin men with a keg, enjoying a beer together -- a monument within a monument.
Valentino's Market, another Ridgewood landmark. Often times oldies music will be blaring from Valentino's, providing a nostalgic soundtrack for customers' fruit and vegetable shopping.
A monument hidden in the butcher shop at the back of Valentino's Grocery — the Meat Monument. The label at the top reads, “25 cents in the middle you win 2 lbs. thick sausage”. I find myself wondering whether or not I would be pleased to win 2 lbs. of thick sausage”¦
Men's Hair Styles Monument Part 1 (Gary is Here). All of the men and boys who are modeling for the haircut display seem rather sullen. My favorite style is the wrap-around Nike swoosh on the boy in the bottom row.
Men's Hair Styles Monument Part 2
The Real Flowers Monument
The Artificial Flowers Moveable Monument (Note the wheels on the bottom of the column)
The Make-Over Monument, Ridgewood's most disturbing marker.
The Magic Tree Monument
The “Crying or Hiding?” Monument
Fantasy Island FaÃ§ade Monument. I really like the window paintings of tropical foliage.
ZZA FaÃ§ade Monument, with expressionistic pizza and meatball sandwich paintings in a bluish palette.
The Italian Ices Monument (Note the prismatic “rainbow” flavor and the nearly invisible lemon flavor)
The Pizzamaker Monument -- this statue pays homage to the pizzamakers of the world.
The Great Wall of Curtains
The Great Wall of Curtains Cont'd
The Great Panties Pile Monument
Field of Fleeces Monument
The Wiggle Wear Monument
The Free Pet Monument (with purchase of cage)
The Neon Seahorse Monument
The Wooden Cat Monument
The Animal Clinic of Queens Monuments
The Animal Clinic Monument — Detail
The Miniature Marriage Monument
Oedipus Complex Monument
Valentine's-Vitamin-Mirror Displacement Monument
The Punch-Drunk Love Monument
The Buried Treasures Monument
Ridgewood's newest monument! The Grand Flower Thoroughfare