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Hauser & Wirth's First Posthumous Show of Jason Rhoades' Work Opens
Jason Rhoades, Installation view, 'Perfect World', Deichtorhallen , Hamburg , Germany , 1999. © The Estate of Jason Rhoades. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner, New York. Photo: Jens Rathmann.

LONDON.- Hauser & Wirth presents the gallery’s first posthumous show of Jason Rhoades’ work and the artist’s first European solo exhibition since his death in 2006. The exhibition features ’1:12 Perfect World’, Rhoades’ scale model of his groundbreaking 1999 exhibition, ‘Perfect World’ at Deichtorhallen in Hamburg. Originally existing as four quarters, the sterling silver model will be brought together at Hauser & Wirth’s Piccadilly gallery, viewable in its entirety for the first time. Like his previous exhibition, ‘The Black Pussy… and the Pagan Idol Workshop’ installed at Hauser & Wirth London in 2005, Rhoades’ incredibly complex installation ‘Perfect World’ created a visual maelstrom of miscellaneous objects and cultural allusions.

‘Things have meanings and meanings have multiplicity and the multiplicities have relationships to other meanings. It creates a kind of system which feeds on itself. It’s the idea of a perpetual motion machine as a work of art’. — Jason Rhoades

‘Perfect World’ (1999) was a ‘mega’ sculpture, a two-level installation created to fill the entirety of the Deichtorhallen, a gallery space of roughly 15,000 square feet with 80-foot high ceilings. Rhoades constructed the work from polished aluminium tubes and wooden triangles, creating a ‘lego system’ that allowed for continued expansion and echoed Marcel Duchamp’s seminal installation ‘Sixteen Miles of String’ (1942). ’1:12 Perfect World’ is a distilled version of this expansive original work, created by the artist as a way to capture and view the entire installation.

Held aloft by the scaffolding-like structure was Rhoades’ 1:1 photographic reproduction of his father’s vegetable garden. This second level or ‘Eden’ was originally conceived as an ideal space, a ‘perfect world’ for Rhoades to continue his work during the exhibition. It was placed on a platform high up in the gallery and could only be accessed by two viewers at a time using a hydraulic lift. From this viewpoint, the gallery visitors below became part of the work whilst the viewers themselves were immersed in the sculpture, denied the perspective to make sense of its mind-boggling dimensions.

The exhibition includes ‘View From Below (Guernica)’ (2000), which depicts the floorplan of the second level as it was built, a jagged shape full of treacherous gaps and two documentations of the original exhibition: a ‘Xerox book’ – consisting of approximately 400 drawings and created by the artist during the conception and production of the piece, intended as a sort of user’s manual; and segments of film and video shot during the erection of the work. In conjunction with the model, the film and drawings provide a balance between the physical and the ephemeral, the mind’s eye and the physical eye.

For Rhoades, both the process and the pursuit of the installation were crucial to the overall effect of the piece. Throughout the duration of the Deichtorhallen exhibition, Rhoades wanted certain actions to continue, such as the cleaning of the aluminium pipes by a large Hammond polisher and the printing of photographs. The sounds of these processes, as well as music played by a Hammond organ nearby, were recorded and used to create ‘Sound Piece (Duet for Hammond and Hammond)’ (2000), shown in the American Room. As they approach this work, the visitor triggers motion detectors, starting the music. As more people gather around the work, more speakers are activated, recreating the cacophony of the Deichtorhallen exhibition.

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