OPPOSE CENSORSHIP AND SUPPORT FREEDOM IN THE ARTS
Did I also mention there is something a bit seedy, dark, and, dare I say, sexual going on with this exhibition that makes it almost impossible to leave? Apparently, the Rubells have been sneaking around their privately owned space setting up highbrow visual playgrounds for adults, so unless you are planning on explaining why artist Charles Ray is giving himself fellatio and sucking his own toes, I think it best you leave the kids at home. After that teaser, I know you don’t need another reason to go to the Rubell’s current show, “Alone Together,” but I’ve got two more big ones: Jason Rhoades and Ryan Trecartin.
Rhoades’s dancing installation of dual Chandelier(s) from 2004, on display on the first floor, screams of all that is wrong (or right, depending who you are) in the world we live in. It’s messy, complicated, and downright nasty. Wagon wheels levitate, suspended in midair by a streaming maze of orange electrical cords that weave like spaghetti, lending support to a nest of brightly illuminating neon words. It’s a red-light district of linguistic proportions exploded, condensed, and then reworked by Rhoades’s discombobulated and imaginative brain.
Phallic vegetables dripping in a white semen-like substance sit perched atop the circles of wood like vultures, peering indulgently over dangling twisted metaphors and lace that stream from below. The frenetic work is grounded by a neatly, isolated bundle of linens wrapped in goo. The words that surge and entice are not meaningless phrases or randomly chosen from Rhoades’s personal dictionary, but are synonymous for one of the most powerful words known to man and representative of female genitalia. However derogatory, the humor and irony isn’t lost in this installation. Designed by a white male, one who places the representative womanly forms in electrically charged power positions that command the space and hover over lifeless and muted fabric left soiled by limp vegetation, is feminism at its best. Yes, that's right, I just called Jason Rhoades a feminist, and I’m never taking it back.
I have a beautiful, very brilliant friend who wrote her master’s thesis on Trecartin. She would go on for hours…something about him being one of the most important artists of all time, or was it “our” time? The details escape me. I would sit smiling, pretending to listen and occasionally yawning, secretly wondering where she had lost her mind. I could never, for the life of me, understand her obsession with this over-the-top, in-your-face, cartoon-like video artist….until now. Ladies and gentlemen, this isn’t just video art. This is your teenager and twenty-something on societally induced, self-centered crack. This is their deranged, freaky, egocentric worlds colliding at warp-like speeds. This is the Internet, Skype, and Facebook reincarnated into strange characters you’ve likely never seen but who you’re certain you know. This is drug culture, media hype, and celebrity obsession all colorfully wrapped into one and, at Rubell, it’s all staged in a run-down beach scene complete with heat-lamps and sand, known as General Park (2010), that could be Miami but probably isn’t.
How does he do it? According to Trecartin, very carefully. The characters he creates, along with another well-known video artist, Lizze Fitch, are scripted and directed down to the very last hand gesture, hair-flip and eye-roll. In Rubell, Trecartin’s Tril-ogy Comp (2009) features a group of three videos called Sibling Topics, K-Corea INC. K, and Popular S.ky. They are a series of scenes ranging from close-up car make-outs and transgendered bedroom conversation to boy talk between girlfriends that captivate and render transfixed all who watch. I dare you to look away.
The show doesn’t stop there. The ultimate art world prankster, Maurizio Cattelan, has silly little pigeons stooped on the rafters and Yoshitomo Nara has…well, you get the drift, it’s great.
“Alone Together” is currently on view at the Rubell Family Collection, 95 NW 29th Street, Miami, Fl., until August, 2, 2013. Go see it.