David Zwirner is pleased to present its first exhibition of Jason Rhoades’s work since Black Pussy in 2007. On view at 537 West 20th Street in New York, the show will be a reinstatement of the artist’s PeaRoeFoam project, which debuted at the gallery in 2002 (then located on Greene Street in SoHo) in the first of a trilogy of exhibitions that also brought it to Vienna and Liverpool the same year. A seminal work within Rhoades’s career, it has not been exhibited as a comprehensive presentation until now and many of the individual components are shown here for the first time since the original installations.
PeaRoeFoam was Rhoades’s self-made recipe for a “brand new product and revolutionary new material” created from whole green peas, fish-bait style salmon eggs, and white virgin-beaded foam. When combined with non-toxic glue, they transform into a versatile, fast-drying, and ultimately hard material that Rhoades intended for both utilitarian as well as artistic use—made accessible in the form of do-it-yourself “kits,” complete with everything needed to make PeaRoeFoam, accompanied by the artist’s detailed, step-by-step instructions.
The exhibition brings together shrink-wrapped pallets with the raw ingredients and the so-called “kebab skewers” made as the drying material was pressed into rectangular molds. Do-it-yourself kits are also presented, and these played a central part in Rhoades’s self-devised marketing strategy of the product and were originally packaged in Ivory Snow detergent boxes from 1972, selected for their logo featuring the actress Marilyn Chambers holding a baby. Soon after the launch of the image brand, Chambers starred in one of the first feature-length porn films ever made, Behind the Green Door, and Rhoades was drawn to the dichotomy between advertised wholesomeness and adulterated content, which in this case arguably contributed to the popularity of both. PeaRoeFoam also embodied a multifunctional purpose, as its almost utopian aspirations of cheap nourishment (the peas were said to have been picked from Rhoades’s family’s garden) and its potential architectural use as building material contradicted its role as sculptural artwork.
Following the original “PeaRoeFormance” at David Zwirner, Rhoades moved the equipment to the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (MUMOK) in Vienna, reassembling it within a large arrangement of working tables and chairs, scaffolding, and various machinery, some of which were drawn from prior works by the artist. For the MUMOK presentation, Rhoades took the earlier production-line assembly of The Grand Machine—a “factory” set up in his studio in Rosemead, near Los Angeles, where assistants would package PeaRoeFoam into Ivory Snow soap boxes—and turned it into a karaoke studio called The Areola.It is exhibited here along with a light wall composed of vertical white neon tubes that was also on view in Vienna.
The production continued at the Liverpool Biennial in the autumn of 2002 inside a giant, inflatable pool the shape and color of a human liver. Following this final exhibition, PeaRoeFoam continued to be appropriated for subsequent works, but the majority of the leftovers and objects from all three “PeaRoeFormances” found a new place in Rhoades’s studio. Arranged on shelves covering the full length of a large wall, they remained on the location until after his untimely death in 2006. The entirety of the installation, never previously shown, will be presented at David Zwirner.
The exhibition follows the artist’s show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia, Four Roads, the first major American museum presentation of Rhoades’s work, which featured the four installations, Garage Renovation New York (CHERRY Makita), 1993; The Creation Myth, 1998; Sutter’s Mill, 2000; and Untitled (fromMy Madinah: In pursuit of my ermitage…), 2004/2013. This show will next be on view at Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany (opening September 18) and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, England in 2015. By focusing on the PeaRoeFoam project, not included in Four Roads,the exhibition at David Zwirner complements this careful investigation of some of Rhoades’s most elaborate installations, which have rarely been seen by the public.