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The King and I

The King and I
Dates and times

26 Jan 2017 - 18 Feb 2017

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19 East Parade, Leeds, LS1 2BH

Artists, writers and musicians respond to Nicholas Monro's 1972 King Kong, currently outside the Henry Moore Institute.

For Nicholas Monro, King Kong was a figure of disorientation. For Garry Barker in his text for this exhibition he is a figure of popular identity around which dissent and protest might coalesce. For Juneau Projects he is a nostalgic childhood memory of car trips to granny's house reimagined from memories of music on the car's cassette player. For Jemima Brown he is a reference point in a complex autobiographical backstory of Hollywood. For others he is part of an architectural and cultural network of memory and loss overlaying the recent history of a Birmingham. For others he is a vague and shifting icon remembered from Hollywood films and childhood comics. For yet others he is an index of the often simultaneous successes and failures of public art.

The history of Monro's art work is a rich and varied one in which, arguably, its very status and identity as 'art' has fluctuated wildly. When it is put to commercial use, repainted in garish ways never intended by the artist, travelled around like a fairground attraction, is it still 'art'? Whether or not, it is largely from that lengthy period that most people's memories and personal mythologies derive. For three months in Leeds, Kong's 'art' status has undoubtedly been regained by his celebratory presence at the Henry Moore Institute's Centre for the Study of Sculpture.

Our exhibition at &Model, almost within sight of the mythic beast, identifies Kong as just that - he is a focus for mythology, for cultural claim and counter-claim. He is an iconic figure as well as a hefty material object, viewed, remembered, fantasised and identified with in very different and individual ways. Hence, The King and 'I'. There are a multitude of 'I's, but just two red eyes.

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