Jason Rhoades’ work explores the conditions in which art is made and subverts conventions standing in the way of its production. Until his untimely death in 2006, Rhoades carried out a continuous assault on aesthetics and the rules governing the art world. Believing the creative process demanded uncensored freedom, his work could be dangerous, overwhelming, politically incorrect, or sublime.
‘Sutter’s Mill’ (2000) is Rhoades’s reconstruction of gold rush pioneer John Sutter’s sawmill in Coloma, California, near the artist’s childhood home. The piece comprises aluminum pipes and other materials from his 1999 Perfect World installation. Rhoades trained and instructed gallery staff to constantly dismantle and re-erect the sculpture throughout the exhibition. Thus the water-powered mill stood as a symbol not only of artistic production (signified by the gold), but also of the creative processes that (in principle) never reach a conclusion and never achieve a neatly packaged form. The artistic process is by definition a form of ‘pursuit’, with the artist forever exploring the quest.
Curated by New York-based curator Gianni Jetzer, Unlimited is Art Basel’s pioneering exhibition platform for projects that transcend the classical art-show stand, including massive sculpture and paintings, video projections, large-scale installations, and live performances.
Image: Jason Rhoades, Sutter’s Mill, 2000
Polished aluminium poles (various lengths); rigid clamps; swivel clamps; 2 Perfect World platforms; steel scaffold baseplates; plywood plates; 2 plastic hard hats; 1 wooden pole rack; 2 blue plastic barrels; 14 nylon backpacks (various colors); 1 aluminum “saw”; 4 wooden “saw washers”; 1 aluminum “shovel”; cloth rags (various colors); 1 metal halide lamp fixture; 2 framed computer “flatworks” with LCD screens
© The Estate of Jason Rhoades
Courtesy of the Estate, Hauser & Wirth and David Zwirner