Jason Rhoades, Four Roads at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA)
During the summer of 2012, I was awarded the NEH Curatorial Fellowship to continue my work at the ICA with Senior Curator Ingrid Schaffner. Since Spring 2011, I have been the Curatorial Research Assistant on the exhibition Jason Rhoades, Four Roads, the first ambitious, large-scale exhibition of the influential American artist, Jason Rhoades, since his sudden death in 2006. The exhibition runs September 18—December 29, 2013.
As one of the progenitors of installation art in the 1990s, Jason’s sculptures eat up space, sprawling easily across otherwise cavernous galleries, lobbies, and parking lots. At first, they appear to be random accumulations of stuff but are, in fact, conscientiously, even obsessively, organized down to the last knick knack—a giant system of cultural references laced with personal significance. As in art, so in life: every aspect of organizing Jason Rhoades, Four Roads has been complicated. The bibliography and exhibition history, which I am authoring for the catalogue, balloons across languages and countries. My Fellowship has consisted largely of tag teaming with international galleries, museums, archives, curators, publishing houses, newspapers, and magazines in order to assemble the many pieces that constitute a paper trail as intricate as Jason’s material constructions. We have worked closely with his estate and archivist; have sifted through hours of video, pages of press releases, and studied hundreds of minutely documented installation photographs in order to ensure that the artwork we present in the fall will be as close to Jason’s vision as possible.
Working on Jason Rhoades, Four Roads has been an enormously fulfilling exercise in close collaboration, dogged attention to detail, and, ultimately, conscientious approximation—the true curatorial task that falls to anyone presenting the work of an artist who is no longer alive to make decisions.