Wang Xu , Garden of Seasons, 2019, Two-channel video, color, sound 33’16” , Untitled Athena, 2021, marble, 53×26×24 cm
Heritage Falls Park, located in the Monterey Park near the Vincent Price Art Museum, consists of a grassy hillside bisected by a tiered fountain with a niche to the end. It was built in the late 1920s by a real-estate developer named Peter N. Snyder, who originally installed in the niche a marble sculpture of a female figure that he referred to as “Athena” in honor of his Greek heritage. The sculpture mysteriously disappeared shortly after it was installed, and the fountain sat empty until 2005, when the Monterey Park Historical Society installed another “Athena” as replacement. Neither the original sculpture nor its replacement bears any of the formal signifiers commonly associated with the Greek goddess Athena.
In 2016, artist Wang Xu granted Equitable Vitrines the permission to use his sculpture Eve (2015) in a proposal for an intervention at the Heritage Falls Park. Wang produced Eve at a marble quarry and commercial sculpture factory in Quyang, China by recovering a damaged statue of the Biblical figure and re-carving it according to the image of a woman who worked at the factory. The proposal would have temporarily placed Eve in the fountain alongside the replaced Athena, which was also imported from Quyang. Equitable Vitrines rescinded its proposal at the conclusion of a debate over the project at a meeting of the Monterey Park City Council in 2017.
Wang Xu’s Garden of Seasons features a marble sculpture, Untitled Athena, and a two-channel video, “Garden of Seasons” that combines footages recording the process of making the Athena sculpture, and the video clips of the city council debating on the destiny of the sculpture, Eve. Through language, the meaning of art becomes abstract.