Pause, Play: Selected Works by Jonathan Monaghan

April 9 to June 26, 2020

NOTE: This exhibition is now closed and disabled. 


Instructions: Click on any one of the artwork titles, below, to view it. The works may be viewed: directly on a mobile smart device (iOS or Android operating systems); by streaming it on a smart TV using the Screen Mirroring feature or by using Apple TV, Chromecast or similar device; or by using a HDMI to USB Type-C or Apple Lightning adapter cable. For optimal viewing, it is suggested that you download the Vimeo app. 


Jonathan Monaghan (United States, b. 1986) 


1. Out of the Abyss, 2018 

Single-channel video streamed online 

19:06 min.

Courtesy of the artist and bitforms gallery


2. The Turtle King, 2018 

Single-channel video streamed online 

04:00 min. 

Courtesy of the artist and bitforms gallery


3. Disco Beast, 2016 

17:14 min. 

Single-channel video streamed online 

Courtesy of the artist and bitforms gallery


Pause, Play: Selected Works by Jonathan Monaghan is a free, online exhibition of three video works by pioneering artist and UMD alumnus Jonathan Monaghan (MFA ’11).


The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the entire world to literally hit the “pause” and “play” buttons. One can no longer experience life and the different types of interactions once enjoyed with each other in the same manner. The global economy has stalled, day-to-day labor relations and patterns of consumption have been severely altered, and a more pronounced authoritarian and surveillance state has emerged—conspiring with corporate titans—to guide our behavior for better or for worse. 


Monaghan’s work is prophetic and sobering in this regard. His work has long addressed similar ideas involving veneer aesthetics, hidden-in-plain-sight power structures and politics, blind consumer behavior, and the romanticization of an otherwise unattainable future. The highly stylized, elegant, and pristine computer-generated utopias presented by the artist persuade the viewer to cognitively look elsewhere, thereby providing a safe haven for the darker, more sinister elements that also permeate contemporary visual culture and society. 


This exhibition is also an early response to what may lay ahead for exhibiting institutions. Museums rely heavily on visitors to physically engage with objects in person through direct observation; however, they are now forced to confront rapidly evolving problems with such a model, primarily arising from a sudden need for social distancing and remote viewing due to the pandemic. This uncoupling has created ripples throughout artistic and humanist circles, as they struggle to meaningfully connect with one another and present their work to the world. 


Pause, Play is curated by Taras W. Matla, associate director. Major support is provided by the Dorothy and Nicholas Orem Exhibition Fund. Generous support is provided by the Maryland State Arts Council.