Jason Rhoades: Tijuanatanjierchandelier at David Zwirner




Image: Installation view, Jason Rhoades, Tijuanatanjierchandelier, CAC Málaga, 2006 Image via David Zwirner Gallery

David Zwirner will open its doors to an exhibition of American artist Jason Rhoades’s large-scale installation Tijuanatanjierchandelier, on view at 519 West 19th Street. First installed at the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo in Málaga, Spain, in 2006, and then featured the following year at the 52nd Venice Biennale, this exhibition marks the first presentation of Tijuanatanjierchandelier in New York. This significant work—one of several installations made during the latter part of the artist’s career—exemplifies Rhoades’s singular investigation of contemporary consumer culture, his career-long interest in probing both language and identity, and his ceaseless drive to push the limits of convention.

Rhoades emerged in the 1990s as one of the most formally and conceptually rigorous artists of his time. During his short but prolific career he became known for highly original, large-scale sculptural installations, which incorporate various materials inspired by Los Angeles car culture and his upbringing in rural Northern California, as well as by a mixture of historical and contemporary global and regional influences that he explored throughout his life. Until his untimely death, in 2006 at age 41, Rhoades carried out a continual assault on aesthetic conventions and the rules governing the art world, wryly subverting those conditions by integrating them into his practice. He conceived his works as part of an ongoing project, to which objects were continuously added, assembled, and reassembled in various configurations. Through his unique visual aesthetic and the conceptual depth of his work, Rhoades complicated the boundaries between the sacred and the profane, the physical and the immaterial, challenging social, political, and linguistic structures and revealing the complexities and contradictions of our globalized, interconnected era.

Jason Rhoades, 1998 via David Zwirner Gallery.
“A perfect work of art, I believe, uses things in it and feeds on things and runs on its own momentum. It’s able to have the capacity to grab other things out of culture and use them…. It is important that each piece creates a territory for me to go in…. I am interested in situations which open things up.” —Jason Rhoades in conversation with Eva Meyer-Hermann on the occasion of the artist’s solo exhibition Jason Rhoades: Perfect World, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, 1999

Made in the last year of the artist’s life, Tijuanatanjierchandelier reflects Rhoades’s many-layered engagement with language, identity, consumption, industry, and exhibition-making in a transcultural, globalized world.

“Many people at first sight think it’s just a mess of stuff,” the curator Eva Meyer-Hermann explains in an interview with the gallery: “Actually, it’s pretty ordered and there’s a system… I think this complexity and this kind of thoroughness, but also this very, very energy-consuming moment or moments have always been very positive, very productive—positive thinking about making sense of all this, what’s around us, and that flows on to us every day. I think that’s the most compelling thing for me.”

Throughout his career, Rhoades sought to raise questions, rather than providing solutions. “I like that [the works] exist because they draw us back in,” he said in 1991. “I want to be understood, but I just want you to work a little harder to do it. Move as much material as I do.”

Jason Rhoades: Chandelier 32, 2006
Neon Glass: Muffin, Low Country, Machine; 2 transformers, orange cord with three-plug, rope, armature wire, camel, glass lead star, hanging basket with bronze mirror, ceramic dolphin, glass lead horse, glass drier, mexican balls, 7 dream catchers, miniature sombrero, candle light, leather fur bag.~ 92.52 x 45.28 x 41.34 inches (235 x 115 x 105 cm). Image via David Zwirner Gallery

The title of the work refers to the cities of Tijuana, Mexico, and Tangier, Morocco, two socially and culturally distinct locales separated by 6,000 miles, which Rhoades associates through their respective locations at the borders between the so-called developing world and the Euro-American West. The visually striking installation is composed of a chaotic web of dangling chandelier-like sculptures made up of neon lights dispersed above an array of items and souvenirs, including mattresses, rugs, animal pelts, imposter handbags, sombreros, Moroccan lanterns, taxidermied animal heads, leather belts, ceramic gourds, and wooden maracas, among other found objects. Reminiscent of a bazaar or marketplace, the work addresses the rise of global tourism and consumerism—industries that have come to define the economies of these areas—while also visualizing the tension that emerges between cultural expression and identity, and cultural appropriation and stereotype. In his choice of these two locations, Rhoades also acknowledges the broader targeting of Latin Americans and Muslims in the post-9/11 political climate. Though created before the 2008 global recession, the global refugee crises, and the ensuing wave of xenophobic nationalism, Tijuanatanjierchandelier anticipated the tensions that have recently erupted between the drive for increased free trade and globalization and the persistence of traditional notions of national sovereignty and security.

Jason Rhoades (1965–2006) was born in Newcastle, California. He received his M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1993. Later that year, Rhoades joined David Zwirner—becoming part of the gallery’s original roster of artists—and had his first New York solo show.

Jason Rhoades: Tijuanatanjierchandelier will be on view from October 24 through December 7, 2019, with an opening reception on Thursday, October 24th at 6-8pm at David Zwirner Gallery, 519 West 19th Street, NYC