SculptureCenter, New York, United States 25 Mar 2021 - 02 Aug 2021
Rindon Johnson, For example, collect the water just to see it pool there above your head. Don’t be a Fucking Hero!, 2021–ongoing. Rawhide, paracord, rainwater. Courtesy the artist and Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Kyle Knodell
Law of Large Numbers: Our Bodies, Rindon Johnson’s first solo museum exhibition, includes newly commissioned sculptures, rawhide works, and video installed throughout the entirety of SculptureCenter’s ground floor galleries, lobby, and outdoor courtyard spaces.
The New York presentation will be followed by a companion exhibition—Law of Large Numbers: Our Selves—with overlapping, reconfigured, and additional works at Chisenhale Gallery, London, (November 2021–January 2022). A new publication with original writings by the artist, published by SculptureCenter, Chisenhale Gallery, and Inpatient Press, accompanies both exhibitions.
As a multidisciplinary artist as well as a writer and poet, Johnson’s practice expands outward from its roots in language. Sculptures, paintings, videos, installations, and VR grow out of his entanglement with words and how they make and unmake our versions of reality. His work shows how supposed virtual and actual realities are integrated, and how art has historically been instrumental in sustaining simultaneous other realities.
Central to the exhibition is Coeval Proposition #1: Tear down so as to make flat with the Ground or The *Trans America Building DISMANTLE EVERYTHING, a large-scale sculpture that references the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. Though it is now one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, when it was completed in 1972 it was received with skepticism and called “the most portentously and insidiously bad building in The City.” Despite its initial reception, the Pyramid is now considered an integral part of the city’s skyline. As a native of the Bay Area, Johnson uses the building to address questions of identity and belonging—starting with where one comes from, but also accounting for one’s ongoing process of identification and disidentification, and the struggle for recognition or obscurity. The Transamerica Pyramid’s iconic construction—concrete, steel, and glass with a façade covered in crushed white quartz—will be remade in reclaimed redwood and ebonized, or darkened. As Johnson writes, this effort will allow him to “more readily see myself reflected in the building which by name and location reflects my trans identity back to me (we share a name)—my skin is brown, almost nearly black in certain light.”
Coeval Proposition #2: Last Year’s Atlantic, or You look really good, you look like you pretended like nothing ever happened, or a Weakening, another major commission, is a live rendering of ocean weather data collected from March 2020 to January 2021. On any given day over the course of the two exhibitions (running from March 2021 in New York to January 2022 in London), the work will generate second-for-second figurative visualizations of weather data gathered on the same day in the previous year. Folding in a climate system that hatches the conditions in which the exhibition takes place, the work creates a yearlong portrait of last year’s Atlantic, centered on the vast North Atlantic “cold blob,” located at the approximate geographical midpoint between SculptureCenter in New York and Chisenhale Gallery in London. The site is an anomalous rapidly-cooling section of the Gulf Stream’s warm ocean current. Believed to be brought on by global warming, the “cold blob” interferes with and continually weakens the system’s movement and its regulation of oceanic and land temperatures.
Law of Large Numbers: Our Bodies is curated by Sohrab Mohebbi, Curator-at-Large. A publication with original writings by the artist, published by SculptureCenter, Chisenhale Gallery, and Inpatient Press, will accompany the exhibitions. Connecting Johnson’s rigorous and poetic writing practice with the larger themes of the exhibition, the publication will serve as an exhibition catalog for the New York and London institutions and also as its own document of the varied ideas, artistic figures, and approaches that inform Johnson’s practice.
Rindon Johnson (born 1990, San Francisco, CA) is an artist and writer based in Berlin where he is an Associate Fellow of Media Art and Virtual Reality at the Universität der Künste Berlin, Berlin Centre for Advanced Studies in Arts and Sciences. His most recent virtual reality film, Meat Growers: A Love Story (2019), was commissioned by Rhizome and Tentacular. His solo presentations include Circumscribe, Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf, Germany (2019); Well, Covered, AA|LA Gallery, Los Angeles (2018); and A Din, A Hand, Beacon, Sacramento, California (2017). Selected group exhibitions include: Searching the Sky for Rain, SculptureCenter, New York (2019); Radical Reading Room, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2019); Nobody Promised You Tomorrow, Brooklyn Museum, New York (2019); States of Play: Roleplaying Reality, FACT – Liverpool, United Kingdom (2018); and the NGV Triennial, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia (2017). He is the author of Nobody Sleeps Better Than White People (Inpatient Press, 2016), the VR book Meet in the Corner (Publishing House, 2017), and Shade the King (Capricious, 2017). Johnson received an MFA in Sculpture from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY (2018), and a BFA in Photography and Urban Planning from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, New York (2012).