For his debut exhibition at Metro Pictures, Stephen G. Rhodes fills the gallery with labyrinthine installations composed of collage, sculpture, painting, and film — constructions that revolve around the 18th-century Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant and the master-servant dialectic he shared with his steadfast servant Lampe.
Rhodes's fictive Kant sports lederhosen and a blonde wig in a fragmented film that is chopped apart and projected onto the walls of one room. A hypochondriac, haunted by creative impotence and a fear of bowel problems, Kant labors at his typewriter, takes restorative walks, and guzzles coffee and tea. A hybrid of a writer, a philosopher, and a scientist, he pulls the string of a tea bag to initiate violent chain reactions. Walls collapse and bombs explode, as rational causality breaks down.
Fragments of Rhodes's film sets are used in the installation, along with glass-paneled wooden cabinets — papered with collages made from travel souvenirs and pornography, and caked with ash from fireworks — that take the place of windows. The back panels of Rhodes's domestic interiors are lined with fragments of a text that align his characters' psychological turmoil with that of the vexed protagonist of The Shining.
Rhodes filmed material for the exhibition in an Upstate New York warehouse, California, and Eastern Europe; at the border in Arizona and the mouth of the Mississippi; and along the freeways of Texas's desert. Spliced together and projected inside the gallery, the pieces create a displaced, discontinuous site of historical and cultural curiosities. Meanwhile, on a wooden plank secured high above the floor, time clicks comfortably along on a lengthy row of found clocks.
Born in 1977, Stephen G. Rhodes lives and works in New York. He has recently had solo exhibitions at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and galleries in Tokyo, Berlin, and London. His work has been included in PortugalArte 10 in Lisbon, Younger than Jesus at the New Museum in New York, and Prospect 1 in New Orleans. He is a graduate of Bard College in New York and the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.