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Jason Rhoades retrospective

"My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage...(2004)" by Jason Rhoades
“My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage…(2004)” by Jason Rhoades

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel’s latest exhibition, “Jason Rhoades Installations, 1994-2006,” opened Saturday, Feb. 18 in Downtown Los Angeles, and will be on display until Sunday, May 21. The 28,000 square foot installation features six of Rhoades’s boldest pieces over the course of his career. Rhoades, known for his provocative installations focused on various non-western cultures, was born in Newcastle, California in 1965 and studied at the San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Arts and UCLA.

The exhibit includes: “My Brother/Brancuzi (1995),” “My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage…(2004)” and “Tijuanatanjierchandelier (2006).”  The installation is neither photographs nor paintings; instead, it is a chaotic accumulation of artfully placed objects and knick-knacks, ranging from a printer to a tunnel to a bicycle, portraying scenes that encapsulate today’s capitalism, technology, sex and consumer culture.

The first room of the installation I visited was “Tijuanatanjierchandelier (2006),” a criticism of tourism and consumerism in developing nations, including Morocco and Mexico. Neon, multicolored signs incorporating both English and Spanish words hang amid wires and above blankets, skins, leather accessories, animals and other trinkets strewn on the floor. Similarly, in the room “My Madinah. In pursuit of my ermitage…(2004)” the floor is covered in from wall to wall in multicolored rugs, creating a patchwork on the floor. Hanging from the ceiling are neon, illuminated signs of African, Creole, Caribbean and hip-hop sexual slang, intended to criticize societal taboos and nicknames surrounding female genitalia.

Contrastingly, in the room  “My Brother/Brancuzi (1995),” Rhoades modeled the exhibit after his brother’s childhood bedroom collocated with modernist artist Constantin Brancusi’s studio. The room is filled with both toys and tools, complete with a fryer and stacks upon stacks of donuts; a symbol of both childhood mass production and consumerism.

This exhibition is an eccentric juxtaposition of light, color and mechanization with everyday American culture and comfort (to the best of my comprehension). At first I thought it was too sophisticated for me to understand, but then I realized that it’s just weird. It is interesting visually, but some of the concepts fly completely over my head. Although I am still confused by the installation, I appreciate it. The exhibit is open Wednesday and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m.–6 p.m. and Thursday from 11 a.m.–8 p.m.