Like most things wonderful and mysterious, this one has a strange beginning to its tale. Marshall Reese had arrived one morning at a gallery in the Chelsea gallery district in New York in early spring 2006 to solicit advice on how and what was best for publishing a portfolio that Nora Ligorano and he were planning.
As he showed gallery director Dru Arstark the artists proofs he had brought, thumbing through each one, her boss Jim Kempner quickly darted in. Marshall and Dru were hunched over the images, chuckling while intently inspecting what looked like mug shots of the Bush administration. Jim rushed over and immediately blurted out, “I’ll publish them.” So began the creation of the fine edition of Line Up, (ed. 50) which was soon to wind up in the collections of the New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum of Art and SFMOMA.
Leaving the gallery on his way downstairs, Dru raced after him and looking down over the stair’s banister excitedly asked, “Do you and Nora do garden sculptures?”
“Garden sculptures?” Marshall quizzically muttered, “Let me talk to Nora.” Later that night at dinner, Marshall looked up between bites and asked, “Nora, do we do garden sculptures? Dru and Jim asked.” Dropping her fork without even swallowing a bite, Nora nodded and replied, “Yeah, we do ice sculptures.”
“Ice sculptures?” he repeated. “Yeah, ice sculptures,” she reiterated. They smiled knowingly at each other and continued their meal. “And we’ll call them ‘temporary monuments.'”
One decade later, Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese are still making this kind of sculpture. But they’ve expanded the concept so much further, making it richer, incorporating time-lapse video, digital printing and streaming to disembody and re-embody physical sculpture and temporalize monuments, reprising Democracy in Denver and Saint Paul in 2008; installing Economy on the 79th anniversary of the Great Depression; the Middle Class in parks in Tampa and Charlotte in 2012; melting The Future at the Peoples’ Climate March in 2014 and The American Dream in Cleveland and Philadelphia in 2016.