Simone Montemurno

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What Is My Work About? 

I make objects that appear as cultural artifacts encountered in regional folk art museums or a forgotten archive. The trope of the artist?s hand and author?s voice are essential: I use my own image, body and voice to foreground subjectivity. I claim responsibility for my representation of the artist as an enunciator, asking: how does anything accrue a determinable value? When does it matter? My work is attentive to modes of display and practices of exhibition design; it’s only complete once a viewer tangibly experiences it, engaging with the narrative threads of history. Because I am equally concerned that my work circulate beyond the confines of an exhibition, I have made vinyl records, cassettes, book multiples, and take-away posters.


Artist Statement

(1-6)                Making small-scale tondo paintings of my studio materials is an effort towards a kind of intimate inventorying of my artist’s tools. I present these as mementos, information and souvenirs of my working process that a viewer can relate to on a one-to-one and personal scale.

(7)                   Considering an intimate and specific point of contact between viewer and object is central to my practice. “When You Sign Your Name,” is a poster with the visceral image of a painter’s palette on it, at actual size. Stacked and placed near an exhibition entrance, the poster is offered to viewers to take-away with them.

(8)                   I’ve been collaborating with artist/composer Byron Westbrook on a cassette piece centered on the partially imagined figure of my shut-in, nocturnal, heavy-metal-listening neighbor. No. 2024 is the distilled representation of a relationship that may or may not exist.   The A-side consists of a composition that constructs a simulated ‘field recording’ that aurally emphasizes the first-person position of ‘hearing.’ It offers the audience the experience of over hearing music – dynamic and specific – but not identifiable, nor exactly locatable. The B-side offers a spoken, short-form narrative sketch of my neighbor; I am the raconteur who fleshes-out the neighbor-figure through thoughts, dreams and preoccupations, my response to hearing this mysterious music at night.

(9-12)             “Source/Arrangement/Partial Archive 2 (It’s A Photograph),” is the second book in a series that documents the arrangement, editing, and sifting through of a personal archive. Each book, though similar in method, contains its own set of themes and motifs that suggest the identity of the collector/album-maker, the construction of an author. The book is to be perused and handled within an exhibition, and I accommodate each exhibition with a specific means of display. Most recently, I used found school desk, and in other instances I have created an orange burlap covered wall and made a table modeled after one from a school library. These are integral in denoting exhibition strategies from another time period and different cultural disciplines.

(13-16)            I am continually at work on a series of painted self-portraits that relate to anthropological theories of material remembrance. Although evidently engaged with the history of painting, this two-panel painting is more inspired by discourse surrounding photography and discussions of ‘the gaze’ in representing a subject. My pose within in each panel echoes art historical precedents: in the first, I am holding a plein-air/hobbyist-painter’s-box like a cigarette-girl would hold her wares. This is in reference to Manet’s Bar at the Folie Bergere and the work’s connection to the advent of department stores such as Le Bon Marche that, for the first time in history, attempted to catch the eye of the woman consumer via the lures of their product displays and window dressings. In the second panel, I am depicted mid-turn, as if the viewer’s presence just caught my attention. This is an inversion of the gesture within Gerhardt Richter’s iconic Betty, and in opposition to a tradition of representation wherein women avert their gaze from the inferred viewer. Self-Portrait of the Artist (Mirrored View), presents two eight-foot tall panels that lean against opposite walls, facing one another. The viewer who stands between them is only able to view one panel at a time. This work foregrounds the relationship between the viewers’ and artist’s subjectivity, and painting itself.

I willingly contribute to the lineage of a genre lacking in representations of women artists. In this vein, I am beginning research in the Hannah Wilke Collection & Archive in Los Angeles. The archive is information in the flesh, physical remains that echo the narrative of Wilke’s life. I’m curious about her unpublished songs and poems. I’m considering a letter-writing-series, titled Dear Hannah, in which I will ask for her thoughts about the complicated art-historical figure she has become, as well as for advice about being an artist and a woman.

(17-18)            “Didn’t Ask You To Sing Along,” consists of a 12” vinyl record that is a hybrid mix-tape, karaoke-sing-a-long, and “covers” album. When displayed, the record is turned on and off by the viewer, and a box sits on the floor nearby containing multiple copies of this “same” record. Viewers can flip through them to see that each one is unique, with an abstractly, hand-painted cover. The A side is themed and titled ‘Love,’ and the B-side ‘Time’–– both themes are simultaneously vast and ordinary. I treat the selected popular songs more as traded folk tales/stories. The phrase “It’s the singer not the song” comes to mind as it points to the power of a voice.

(19)                 With a similar strategy in mind, the cassette “Automatic Narrative Biography 1” contains my recitations of personal narrative vignettes.   I’ve previously exhibited this work with a self-portrait painting. Paired, the two pieces work as complements to one another. The cassette emphasizes how inherently mute and reliant on supplemental biographic information a painted portrait can be. The cassette stands-in as an example of how stories – told and re-told – shift in meaning as they circulate further and further away from their original context.

(20)                 “For a life of independence,” is inspired by the myriad ways women are portrayed within the narratives of folk songs. This 7” vinyl record plays a newly constructed folk song. The found lyrics of a song set in coastal New England (where a wife has conflicting feelings towards her Whaler husband), is paired with the tune of a mountainside-set song wherein a young man laments that he is too poor to marry his sweetheart. The last lyric of the song is unusual and subversive as, upon her husband’s departure to sea, the wife remarks: “First I cry for his departure, then laugh because I’m free”.




1980. Manila, Philippines.

Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.



2011           MFA, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2002           BFA, Dept. of Photography + Imaging, Art History, TSOA, NYU, New York, NY


Solo Exhibitions

2013           “When You Sign Your Name,” metro pcs, Los Angeles, CA

2011           Thesis Exhibition, D-300, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA

2010           MFA First Year Exhibition, Main Gallery, California Institute of the Arts

2002           “those girls,” Thesis Exhibition, 8th Floor Gallery, Department of Photography+Imaging, Tisch, NYU, New York, NY


Group Exhibitions


“Young Painters Exhibition,” Hiestand Galleries at Miami University, Miami, OH.
“Primo Lane,” organized by Aili Schmeltz, Outpost Projects, Joshua Tree, CA


“DREAMING WILDLY // FIGHTING TO WIN,” exhibition & auction in support of Critical Resistance Los Angeles, , The Underground Museum, L.A., CA.
“The Collective Reading Group,” (third reader in series) organized by Monica Rodriguez, L.A., CA.
“Table Setting,” organized by Jancar Jones, Los Angeles at Important Projects, Oakland, CA
The Artist’s Tag Sale, X-TRA at the Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, L.A., CA
“Concrete Walls”, organized by Devon Tsuno, Autonomia, Los Angeles, CA
Artists’ Books and Cookies, Alumnis47/ For Your Art/ Ooga Booga2, Los Angeles, CA.
“Amazon Solitaire”, curated by Akina Cox, Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, CA
“The Last Brucennial”, Bruce High Quality Foundation, 837 Washington Street, NYC, NY


“Dark Star”, curated by Becca Mann, BASILICA HUDSON, Hudson, NY
“Murmurial,” curated by Melodie Mousset, Curtat Tunnel, Lausanne, Switzerland
Artists’ Books and Cookies, Alumnis47/ For Your Art/ Ooga Booga2, Los Angeles, CA.
“Summer Group Show,” Tiny Annex, Los Angeles, CA.
Six&Six ‘@ the Fresh Paint Annex, curated by Jack Heard, Los Angeles, CA.


“Authenticity?” curated by Andy Robert, Untitled Art Projects, Los Angeles, CA. (Authored text).
“Ex Libris,” Sabina Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.
Benjamin Love, Simone Montemurno, Ali Prosch, Keneth Tam, curated by Matt Siegle, BLUE SHANTY, Los Angeles, CA.
“Picture Your Unit,” UNIT at Gallery Sonja Roesch, Houston, Texas.
The Rock and Eagle Shop, Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, CA.
“That’s Life: Politics and Pictorial Space,” Concord Space, Los Angeles, CA.


Group Exhibitions (cont’d)


“Shortcuts and Pitfalls,” curated by Keaton Macon, Kamikaze July 5th, PØST, L.A., CA. (Exh cat).
GLAMFA, California State University Long Beach Gallery, Long Beach, CA. (
“Intimacies: CalArts MFA Show 2011,” curated by Eve Fowler and Alexandro Segade,
The Farley Building, Los Angeles, CA. (


“Closed For Installation,” 303 Gallery, New York, NY.


Marfa Tea Party, organized by Jessica Hundley, Marfa Film Festival, Marfa, TX.


“is you is or is you ain’t,” curated by Jed Dodds, Kirsten Schiele and Christopher West, at the Indianapolis MOCA, IN traveling to Creative Alliance, Baltimore, MD.


“Inside Job,” An Earnest Cut&Sewn project space, NYC, NY.
“These Bagels are Gnarly,” curated by Rich Jacobs, Cinders Gallery, Brooklyn, NY.


“Invoking,” curated by Dirk Knibbe, Bucketrider Gallery, Chicago, IL.
Ulrich Project Series: The General Store, Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita, KS.


The General Store, Milwaukee WI, at NADA Art Fair, Miami Beach, FL.


“What Now,” Thomas J.Walsh Art Gallery, Fairfield University, CT.
“Snapshots,” The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT.


Curatorial Projects

 2012           Ex Libris, Sabina Lee Gallery, Los Angeles, CA.

  • A thematic, project- based exhibition comprised of materials borrowed from the LAPL. Participants included: Travis Diehl, Becca Mann, Summer Mann, Sharon Mizota, myself featuring The Chapin Sisters, Susan Morgan, Claire Nereim and Millie Wilson.


2010-11     Visiting Artist Coordinator, California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA.

  • Curated 40 lectures for Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series (with Cammie Staros and Michala Paludan)
  • Programmed single artist lectures with Richard Jackson, Miwon Kwon, Mai-Thu Perret,Rachel Harrison and Hito Steyerl among others.
  • Originated a conversation-styled lecture series pairing speakers together: Kelly Nipper and Simone Forti in conversation, and Stephen Kaltenbach and Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer were highlights.
  • Organized two panel discussions as part of lectures series: one on Artist-run Spaces, and one that addressed current modes of Art Criticism.


2002       Once Over, NYU & The Elizabeth Foundation, New York, NY.

  • Co-curator of the exhibition titled “Once Over.” Showcased 14 artists selected from an open call who had graduated from an art-study program within the last five years.
  • Curators selected artists with guest jurors Ellen Brooks, Nancy Bowen and Linda Levinson.


 Publications & Press


Tuck, Geoff. (review).


Barrat & Boyes and Jayme Yen, “Chameleon,” Le Roy 1, p. 85-6, DDMMY, Auckland,New Zealand.


“Hologram of Andy,” (authored exhibition text) for Authenticity? Untitled Art Projects, L.A., CA


“Kamikaze 2011,” PØST, Los Angles (exh cat.)
GLAMFA, (Greater Los Angeles MFA), California State University Long Beach Gallery. (
“Intimacies: CalArts MFA Show 2011,” curated by Eve Fowler and Alexandro Segade, The
Farley Building, Los Angels with contributing texts by Michael Ned Holte, Martin
Kersels, Alexandro Segade , and Shirley Tse. (

2009, 8/20/09,, 8/20/09,


Johnson, Martin L. “The Pretenders: Artists Play Hide and Seek With Identity, Storytelling, and Natural World,” Baltimore City Paper, October 1, 2008, Baltimore, MD.




Miami University Young Painters Competition – Finalist


Teaching Artist Fellowship, Armory Center for the Arts, Pasadena, CA
Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s YoYoYo Artist’s Grant 2014
Alice C. Cole Fellowship – Nominee
Rema Hort Mann Foundation – Nominee

Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s YoYoYo Artist’s Grant 2013

Deans Grant, California Institute of the Arts
Student Council Grant, California Institute of the Arts

Deans Grant, California Institute of the Arts


Teaching & Workshop Experience

“Wik-Ed Women,” founding organizer of a series of monthly Wikipedia editing sessions / workshops for Los Angeles women in the arts to contribute their expertise to Wikipedia.

Wikipedia-Editing-Workshop, Center for the Arts Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, CA
Volunteer Tutor, 826LA (A Non-Profit Writing & Tutoring Center), Los Angeles, CA

Instructor, “Making an Abstract Painting,” a workshop for parents at Parent’s Weekend at CalArts

Teaching Assistant, Painting, Interim Instructor, California State Summer School for the Arts,

Teaching Assistant, Painting, California State Summer School for the Arts, (CSSSA)

Literacy Tutor, Americareads, PS. 118 New York, NY via New York University