explored in his SUPERMAX exhibitions, confronting notions of
repression and liberation in this latest body of work
PaceWildenstein is thrilled to present its first solo exhibition of new work by Sterling Ruby, who joined the gallery in 2009. 2TRAPS, an installation of two large-scale sculptural works created over the past year in the artist’s Los Angeles studio, will be on view at the gallery’s 545 West 22nd Street location from February 5 through March 20, 2010. The artist will be present for an opening reception on Thursday, February 4th from 6-8 p.m.
For his first installation at PaceWildenstein, Sterling Ruby has transformed a public transportation vehicle into a ready-made sculpture titled BUS, outfitted with a series of interior solitary confinement cages, speakers, sub-woofers, chrome fixtures, and exterior security doors. Inside this muted, claustrophobic environment, notions of excess and suppression are heightened to new extremes. Situated nearby, and mirroring BUS in scale (each sculpture measures approximately 10' x 9' x 40'), PIG PEN is a massive rectangular grid configured from a series of smaller custom-built rectangular blocks. Each individual block is comprised of four metal security doors, identical to those found on homes in urban environments. Both of these sculptural traps act symbolically as relics of a tarnished past, signals of a stagnating present, and warnings for an apocalyptic future.
In Max Weber’s book, The Protestant Ethic and The Spirit of Capitalism, he describes the end result of contemporary society’s adherence to rationality, reason, and progress as the iron cage of modernity. The consequence, Weber claimed, was a technically ordered, rigid, dehumanized society, governed by one set of rules, which limits human freedom and individuality. He argued that society at large was ultimately responsible for changing the social bureaucracies it created.
Throughout Sterling Ruby’s diverse practice, he has sought to breach the dichotomy of liberation and repression. In constructing these places of confinement and stagnation, the artist confronts contemporary isolation in the face of the social structures that create it. BUS and PIG PEN are physical allegories for the powerful traps that human beings construct for themselves and metaphorical manifestations of marginal places that exist outside the past, present, or future. The sculptures reinforce society’s need for recognition and transformation.
Sterling Ruby has explored extreme and traumatic territories and transient states in the past. For SUPERMAX 2008, at the Pacific Design Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, he filled the museum with his signature stalagmite structures, large-scale spray-paint paintings, poured urethane blocks, and his defaced minimalist monoliths. He correlated the architecture of the Pacific Design Center with Pelican Bay, a maximum-security prison in Northwest California. Also included in this exhibition was Time Machine, a wooden cage-like structure, inscribed with the text:
THE PAST HAS CHEATED ME…
THE PRESENT TORMENTS ME…
THE FUTURE TERRIFIES ME!
The installation at the Pacific Design Center concluded the artist’s SUPERMAX trilogy. Previous incarnations were exhibited at Galerie Christian Nagel in Cologne, Germany (2006) and Mark Foxx, Los Angeles (2005).
Sterling Ruby (b. 1972) lives and works in Los Angeles, California. His most recent solo exhibitions include Sterling Ruby/Robert Mapplethorpe, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels (2009), The Masturbators, Foxy Production, New York (2009), SUPERMAX 2008, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CHRON, The Drawing Center, New York (2008), and Grid Ripper, Galleria d’arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Bergamo, Italy (2008). Ruby’s work was also included in the recent group exhibitions New Photography 2009, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2009-10), New York Minute, Depart Foundation, Macro Future Museum, Rome (2009), Beg, Borrow and Steal at the Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2009), Abstract America: New Painting and Sculpture, Saatchi Gallery, London (2009), Five, Red October Chocolate Factory, Moscow (2009), and Stray Alchemists, Ullens Center of Contemporary Art, Beijing (2008). His work can be found in numerous public collections worldwide, including the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Seattle Art Museum, Washington; and The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.