On view at David Zwirner in New York is an exhibition of works from Jason Rhoades’s PeaRoeFoam project, which originally debuted at the gallery in 2002. PeaRoeFoam is considered a key work in Rhoades’ career, but it has not been exhibited comprehensively (including all three parts of the trilogy) until now.
PeaRoeFoam was a material that Rhoades invented and marketed as a product to be sold back in 2002. The material is composed of whole green peas (“picked from Rhoades’ family’s garden”), fish-bait style salmon eggs, and white virgin-beaded (meaning, not recycled) styrofoam, which, is bound together using copious amounts of glue to create a peculiar bonding agent that smells rather strongly while still wet, but is also susceptible to mold when dry making it a uniquely flawed artistic material that fits in quite well with much of Rhoades’s work.
Throughout the rooms of the exhibition are various elements of the production process of the materials, including the tools used to make the formula, a mixing desk and chair, and a pallet sculpture built from all of the above, including the PeaRoeFoam itself. The exhibition explores the complex dichotomy arising from the invented material: it is a mixture between an explanatory display of the industrial process behind the making of a product that was meant for mass distribution and use; and a unique, experimental exhibition displaying an object that was made for a purely artistic purpose. This confusion of production and consumption dominated much of Rhoades’s work, and his installation here conveys much of the same “can-do” corporate mentality that he so often skewered in his pieces.
On display in the exhibition are thirty-six shrink-wrapped, stacked packages, each containing eight do-it-yourself kits as if about to be shipped, next to a large clock, similar to the ones used at the original production sites, “designating them as controlled workplaces where regular hours were kept.” PeaRoeFoam was sold in its component parts in the form of a kit packaged in Ivory Snow detergent boxes from 1972, which were chosen for their logo at the time, an image of Marilyn Chambers holding a baby. Rhoades chose this image for the box because of the fact that Marilyn Chambers starred in one of the first feature-length pornographies films ever made, Behind the Green Door, just one year after the launch of the detergent brand, and the result was an ironic blend of “wholesomeness and adulterated content,” similar to his invented material. The artist underlines this tension by also including a number of posters from Chamber’s adult film in the show, wedged between works or tucked into corners of others.
Also on display are rectangular molds with an aluminum pipe, reused from Rhoades’ earlier project Perfect World (1999), into which the wet PeaRoeFoam mixture was pressed and allowed to dry. The resulting “kebab skewers” could then theoretically be used as sculptures or building materials.
Like much of Rhoades’s most complex works, the sculptural nature of the objects ultimately serves as its own mode of production, a peculiar link between the object and its use that constantly folded in on itself, creating ever-growing accumulations of material within the gallery space, always motivated by methods and forms of artistic production, marketing and a strong sense of the “user” in the context of mass commodity marketing.
The exhibition at David Zwirner will remain on view through October 18, 2014.