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Nina Katchadourian Monument to the Unelected

Created specifically for the Museum's 10th anniversary exhibition Seriously Funny, Nina Katchadourian’s installation Monument to the Unelected takes the form of signs resembling those typically displayed on street corners during political campaigns.

Oct 3 - Dec 3, 2020

Created specifically for Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art’s 10th anniversary exhibition Seriously Funny, Nina Katchadourian’s installation Monument to the Unelected takes the form of signs resembling those typically displayed on street corners during political campaigns. The 58 signs display the names of all the candidates who have lost an American presidential election.  

Monument to the Unelected traces a forgotten or potentially alternative historical lineage. The work’s temporary nature calls attention to our short-term collective political memory and the irony of promoting failed presidential candidates. Katchadourian points out that “there are many names on the signs that will be utterly unfamiliar; there are also candidates who are very well-known because they did become president later, or because they had been president but ran again unsuccessfully. In many ways, the project plays with the blank spots in our knowledge of American history.”  

As the work honors the “could have been,” it also reminds us of the huge role advertising plays in election campaigns today and calls attention to the unique design style and language typical of signs like these. Working with graphic designer Evan Gaffney, the artist explains that “collectively, the signs communicate something about our aesthetic and our understanding of what is implied by a certain kind of font or typeface.” Contemporary graphic treatment and catchy slogans, such as “Adams in ’92!” (1792 that is) and “Re-elect Herbert Hoover: Prohibition, Optimism,” cleverly transport the presidential candidates of bygone days, creating an experience of a time warp. Katchadourian aims to get viewers to do a double take, to catch themselves taking for granted these forgotten names and maybe learn a little something about American history in the process. 

At the moment when the country is deeply preoccupied with a major national election, Monument to the Unelected presents a view, and a reminder, of the country’s collective political road not taken. Monument to the Unelected has been exhibited during every presidential election cycle since 2008—both on public sites and in museums and galleries—and always spanning the time both before and after the election. This year, after the election results have been determined, the 59th loser’s sign will be added to the group. 

Currently On View
Our advance thanks to visiting patrons for their respect to the property, neighbors, and surrounding neighborhood, and works included in the installation.

SMoCA’s installation is located at 2506 North 13th Street, Phoenix, AZ 85006 in the yard of a private residence near the cross streets of Thomas Road and 12th Street. 

Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana 

Catherine Clark Gallery, San Francisco 

PACE Gallery, New York 

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland  

Transformer Station, Cleveland 


Assistant Curator Lauren R. O’Connell in conversation with Nina Katchadourian.

Press play to watch the video.

You can read more about her artwork Monument to the Unelected in our Museum Musings series, where we invite artists and staff to utilize our blog Inspire as an outlet to make meaningful connections by sharing personal reflections and insight into their practice.


Monument in the Press

Fox 10 explores the political signs featured in Monument to the Unelected.

‘Monument to the Unelected’ exhibit dedicated to those who lost presidential races featured on 12 News.

AZ Family visited Monument to the Unelected. Check out the interview with our registrar Carrie Tovar.

“Katchadourian’s Monument may be one of the most penetrating political artworks of the present moment.”—Forbes

Los Angeles Times featured Monument to the Unelected in Art exhibit on an O.C. lawn displays signs for failed candidates in every U.S. presidential election.

 “A vehicle for imagining alternative futures.”—Hyperallergic

The People on These Political Signs All Have Something in Common by Los Angeles Magazine takes a look at Monument to the Unelected.

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