In RARE PLUS, Matthew McGuinness presents a selection of mixed media collages and soap sculptures that document his all-encompassing art/lifestyle projects in an exhibition entitled Rudolf: A Salutary Pipeline. The title refers to Rudolf Diesel, the inventor of the engine that bears his name. For McGuinness, Diesel and his invention are a metaphor for one of the biggest environmental, economic, and political crises of our time. Originally designed to run on vegetable and seed oils to enable craftsmen, artisans, and farmers to compete with large industries, the engine has gone through a recent renaissance as underground, do-it-yourselfers have reconfigured it to draw attention to a variety of current issues and causes.
McGuinness' projects include collecting vegetable waste oil from local Chelsea restaurants; converting it to usable fuel with the help of high school students in Bushwick, Brooklyn, undergraduate students he instructed during his recent University of California/Santa Cruz residency, and organic farming communities in upstate NY; and finally creating self-referencing art projects about the whole process. These include collages as studies of the various stages of the artist's bio-fuel making process, while the sculptures are a physical embodiment of that process coming full circle. Using the waste product (glycerin) of his biodiesel engine, McGuinness produces cast-soap sculptures that reference both car culture and alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources. One such example, Driver's Side Front (2008), which is the glycerin-cast rim of the artist's own 1987 Ford F-350 truck, illustrates the potential for a responsible, self-sustainable culture - a lesson that Diesel himself would salute.