Melt, 2009
Joy Garnett’s photo of a scoop of ice cream melting on industrial carpet is evocative and wonderfully strange; the ice cream looks like an unidentifiable organism, while the melting alludes cleverly to global warming. The chemical nature of the industrial carpet is almost grisly when juxtaposed with the living, breathing feeling of the dessert.

– Laila Pedro, Idiom Magazine: What Matters Most at Exit Art.


(2008 – ongoing)

unmonumental was born in the Spring of 2008 after a visit to the Unmonumental exhibition at New York’s New Museum, which set out to explore fragmented forms, torn pictures… crumbling symbols and broken icons. Back on the street, Garnett shot a photograph of a junk-filled shopping cart and posted it on twitter with the hashtag #unmonumental. She continued to shoot and post photographs of discarded objects on a daily basis. She re-visited Robert Smithson’s  “Monuments of Passaic”1 and George Brassaï’s “Involuntary Sculptures”2 and what began as twitter snark grew into a long-term exploration of impermanence through street photography.

Follow unmonumental on Instagram (#unmonumental; #unmonumentalwest)


1) Smithson, R. Monuments of Passaic, Artforum, December 1967.

2) Brassaï, G. Sculptures involontaires, Minotaure, n° 3-4, déc 1933.


Tom McGlynn (catalogue 2013;2016):

Unmonumental [PDF]

Lance Wakeling, The Highlights, (October 2009):

Voluntary Sculptures: Photographing the Unmonumental; (download PDF of Voluntary Sculptures)

Henri Ennui (aka Lyra Kilston), (2008):

A Guide to the Unmonuments of New York


The Huffington Post (March 22, 2016) Tracey Harnish: unmonumental: Joy Garnett Walks the Streets of New York


Beauty Is in the Streets,” Art21 Magazine, Mar/Apr 2015 Issue: “Ruin”


Download a PDF of the 2nd edition of unmonumental (2016)

Or read it below (click ‘full-screen’) or at issuu. It includes new images and  text, and the original essay by Tom McGlynn (~ 54 pages).

The 1st edition (Oct 2013) is available in hardcover and as an ebook on blurb or via iTunes.



Gallatin Galleries, NYU: November 5, 2015 – January 26, 2016

PRESS: Musée Magazine (November 2015): New York, I Love You, But… At NYU’s Gallatin Galleries  PDF

unmonumental 1

Joy Garnett, Gallatin Galleries, NY