Monofonus Takes on Marfa

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Monofonus Press, an Austin-based record label and multimedia organization, is heading to the deserts of Marfa, Texas this weekend to stage an elaborate video-art presentation at the 4th annual Trans-Pecos Festival of Music and Love at El Cosmico, hosted by hotelier to the in-crowd Liz Lambert.

Liz Lambert called on Morgan Coy, founder of Monofonus, to develop a video-art segment of the program because Monofonus is known for bringing together artists in various disciplines. It specializes in the physical and digital distribution of music literature and art, one aspect of which is its IF Series, a publication of artfully rendered and curated book-and-album packages that are as amazing to touch and hold as they are to listen to. And video art is one branch of the multifaceted nature of Monofonus.

Monofonus’s Jill Pangallo, a video and performance artist, organized the video series, Marfan Videos, which will debut at the festival. As Pangallo explained, this weekend, the weekend of the Chinati Foundation Open House, historically has been one of Marfa’s biggest events, drawing in art enthusiasts from all over the country and internationally. But in recent years, the event has been lagging and Liz Lambert’s been angling to revitalize the legendary weekend as a major fall event. Pangallo issued an open call to artists and wrangled from submissions a compendium of works, all under 7 minutes, from a wide range of talent. Among the many artists exhibiting work will be Leigh Brodie, Duncan Malashock, Shana Robbins, Michael Nason, Trish Tillman and Skote. Duncan Malashock uses new media tools and analog equipment to explore artificiality and imitation as demonstrated in this short video entitled “Whorl and Magnet”:

According to Morgan Coy, the physical structure for the video projections was conceptualized and undertaken by some experimentally minded students of architecture at the University of Texas, Austin. “Seven TVs buried in the ground in the desert,” said Coy, explaining one of the concepts planned to present the work. “I hope it doesn’t rain.” Another facet of the concept is a large screen built of Rebar, wire and fused plastic bags. Coy was excited to work with the students at UT because he said, “it lends itself to our collaborative spirit.”

Coy explained further that once the weekend in Marfa was done, the experimental art show would take to the road in an effort to “stitch together artistic communities” both in various cities in Texas, where there’s “not a lot of cross-talk happening,” and eventually across the country. About the peculiar nature of video art, Coy said that while it can be great, it has the potential to be “uncomfortable” or “unpleasant,” which is part of video’s unique appeal, “part of the aesthetic.”

And if you can’t make it down to Marfa, but want to be kept apprised of the event, you can follow Monofonus on Twitter.


Rozalia Jovanovic is a founding editor of Gigantic, a magazine of short prose and art. She is the Deputy Editor of Flavorpill and has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Columbia University. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming from Unsaid, The Believer, Everyday Genius, Guernica, elimae, and Esquire.com. She blogs at The Astonishing Egg and is The Rumpus New York Editor. More from this author →