Jason Rhoades, Four Roads
“Jason Rhoades, Four Roads”, the first major survey of Jason Rhoades’ work in the United States, has flooded Philadelphia’s ICA with compulsively ordered chaos. Four large-scale installations collapse the profound with the profane and submerge the viewer in the artist’s brilliantly berserk mind.
Visitors are advised to navigate the exhibition through four interpretive themes: Jason Rhoades, American Artist (Americana); Systems (language, scale, indexing, economies); Jason the Mason (Personal Mythology); Taboo. These paths ground his diverse body of work (readymades, installations, assemblages) within decisive organizational structures.
Rhoades’ work is gesamtkunstwerk (total artwork) at its finest. Cherry Makita”, a ramshackle repair garage scattered with cocaine-like powder and dollar bills made from butcher paper, represents his attempt to screw people out of their money through art. “Creation Myth”, the largest work at the ICA, is an impenetrable mess that maps the artist’s mental landscape. Totem poles plastered with hard-core pornography stand amid products from a plastic past (Nintendo Playstations, floppy disks, vintage computers).
The artist’s most iconic projects are installed on the ICA’s second floor. “Sutter’s Mill”, a metal replica of the historic mill where California’s 1848 gold rush began, is disassembled and reassembled by art-handlers every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. In “My Madinah”, fluorescent euphemisms for vagina dangle like wind-catchers above a patchwork carpet of striped and solid towels. It is Rhoades’ explicit attack on Emmanuel Kant’s philosophy (“enlightenment is an emergence from self-imposed immaturity”).
The artist, who died in 2006, was the student of Richard Jackson and Paul McCarthy. His work is saturated with the influence of Donald Judd, Bruce Nauman, Marcel Duchamp, Ed Kleinholz, Brancusi, Dan Flavin and others.
Jason Rhoades, Four Roads is on display at the Philadelphia ICA through December 29. Admission is free every day. The show will tour internationally in 2013, beginning at the Orange County Museum of Art.
This article is part of a collaborative series with Grey Area. Grey Area produces products, installations and content that connect art with everyday life.
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