Thursday, February 10, 2011

Stephen G. Rhodes - Metro Pictures

Used as a tool for memorization, method of loci involves constructing a mental space to visualize your thoughts. Stephen Rhodes latest installation brings his mental palace into reality inviting viewers to explore an unsettling world inspired by Immanuel Kant. Funneled through the exhibit by roughly-constructed secondary walls, visitors find themselves in a deranged shanty rather than a sterile art gallery. Every horizontal surface is littered with cups, clocks and other household ephemera inducing a feeling of cluttered claustrophobia. Hidden alcoves are formed as a result of the temporary walls, rewarding the explorative visitor with the artist’s works. Paintings such as Vacant Portrait: Roussseau shows a canvas primed for a portrait with the sitter strangely absent; a hand written note attached to the bottom encourages the viewer to come closer. Also found in these constructed spaces are a series of sculptures titled Inkantinent Mochte Gemacht, reminiscent of mounted curio cabinets filled with objects and imagery. The works, fitted tightly into their niches, have an enshrined quality. At the center of the instillation we find a multimedia extravaganza. Two pairs of jury-rigged projectors rotate in the center of the room blanketing the walls with video. We watch as an assumed Immanuel Kant labors at his desk, while simultaneously furniture is being caught on fire and objects are crashing to the ground. Rhodes message seems opaque, hidden behind esoteric symbology and dense German titles, but as we become overwhelmed by the space perhaps we are clearly experiencing the artist’s intention.


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  2. There are a couple of areas where the sentence structure is a bit awkward specifically the second sentence, and the third. They seem a bit too wordy. Another area is when you say Jury Rigged this phrase is too familiar for a review. Instead of contraption maybe say sculpture, because in a way the projection was a sculptural element as well as functional. I don't think you need the if between interesting and unorthodox. Otherwise I think this explains that installation well.

  3. I think that your choice to use 'method of loci' is good, but that you don’t explain it enough to provide the insight that you might by drawing the connection. It might be put to better use if you defined the term and synthesize that with your description. As it is, I am left with the impression that the artist is commenting on Kant, but mentioning Kant doesn’t in itself clarify anything.

    "Horders-esque" feels clumsy. "…reminiscent of the television show 'Hoarders'" might work better, but even better still might be a more visceral allusion; for example "…inducing a feeling of claustrophobia like that stepping into a hoarder's apartment." My point is that we are not being placed into a televisual claustrophobia, but into the real physical space that it represents.