Born 1981 in Boston, MA
Lives and works in Los Angeles, CA

Year created:
Cleopatra's Needles, Liz Glynn
Click images for larger view

20' x 3' x 3'

wood and reclaimed pallet stock
Courtesy of the artist and Redling Fine Art, Los Angeles, CA

No longer on view.

Liz Glynn creates monumental sculptures and participatory performances that explore human ambition and agency through acts of building, demolition, and recycling. Glynn was included in the group show Temporary Structures: Performing Architecture in Contemporary Art at deCordova in the Fall of 2011. For the exhibition, Glynn constructed two 20-foot wooden obelisks based on “Cleopatra’s Needles,” the famed pair of Egyptian obelisks transported to London and Manhattan in the nineteenth century. 

The Egyptian monuments are a testament to heroic human effort in their creation and movement: each was chiseled from a single piece of granite and erected by a system of ramps and levers and an army of slave laborers. The monoliths were inscribed with tales of military victory and raised to honor the power of the ruling pharaoh. Following in the Roman tradition, many obelisks were taken to Europe and the United States in the 1870s and appropriated as symbols of Colonial power and international trade—markers of new empires. Today these artifacts and their inspired replicas, like Boston’s Bunker Hill Monument, dot our landscape, serving not only as geographic and cultural landmarks but also as towering reminders of imperialist campaigns throughout history.  

For deCordova, Glynn replicated “Cleopatra’s Needles” in a more transient material – wood recycled from used shipping pallets. With assistance from museum volunteers she coordinated the raising of these structures with ropes and pulleys as a performance during the opening weekend of Temporary Structures. Following the close of the exhibition, Glynn resituated one of the obelisks on its side near its erect twin, as a sign of toppled, deflated, or failed regimes. By reconstructing these monuments with the slats of crates used in commercial shipping and placing them side-by-side in the Sculpture Park, Glynn considers the life cycles of empires, past and present, political and commercial, and their manifestations in today’s built environment.  

Glynn received her MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and her BA from Harvard College. Her work has been exhibited across the United States at venues including the the New Museum, New York, NY, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Cambridge, MA and Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin TX among others. More information about the artist can be found here.