Black Pussy | David Zwirner
Installation view of the exhibition, Black Pussy, at David Zwirner in New York, dated November 2007—January 2008.

Jason Rhoades

Black Pussy

Jason Rhoades' untimely death in 2006 at age 41 cut short a career which, through the sheer audacity, scope, and ambition of his prolific artistic output since 1993, promised to make him one of the defining artists of his generation. While often perceived as a maverick–constantly changing styles, materials, and intellectual approaches for each project, it is the very continuity and reoccurrence of Rhoades' most important concepts and concerns throughout his career that is the hallmark of his final exhibition, Black Pussy, conceived by the artist in 2005 and 2006 and completed in Rhoades' studio shortly before his death.

The last installment in a trilogy of work that includes Meccatuna (2003) and My Madinah: in pursuit of my ermitage…(2004), Black Pussy remains one of Rhoades’ most mysterious works, and his most ambitious. Sprawling roughly 3,000 square feet, the work presents itself as a large installation, dominated by an empty stage bearing a neon sign which reads "Live in the Black Pussy." The work also features 185 neon pussy word signs, as part of the artist’s ongoing project of creating a cross-cultural compendium of synonyms for female genitalia. Large storage racks are covered with myriad objects, including hundreds of Egyptian Hookah pipes from a seized shipping container, over 350 unique Dream Catchers (a traditional Native American fetish object used to filter dreams), 89 beaver-felt cowboy hats, 72 Chinese Scholar stones, Venetian glass vegetables (and Chinese knock-offs), colorful cloth rugs, a homemade aluminum replica of Jeff Koons' famous stainless steel Rabbit (1986), and more. To one side, a large macramé textile object covers the wall. Beyond the formal juxtapositions created, the individual elements in the massive installation interact symbolically, communicating dichotomous relationships of masculine versus feminine, Eastern versus Western traditions, the handmade versus the massproduced, and the authentic versus the fake.

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Dates
November 13, 2007January 26, 2008
Artist
Installation view of the exhibition, Black Pussy, at David Zwirner in New York, dated November 2007—January 2008.
Installation view of the exhibition, Black Pussy, at David Zwirner in New York, dated November 2007—January 2008.

The installation and interactive performance Black Pussy formed part of the artist’s “Pussy Trilogy,” which also encompassed Meccatuna (2003) and My Madinah: In pursuit of my ermitage… (2004). Evoking the style of the coffee table social diary, the catalogue documents the events, known as Black Pussy Soirée Cabaret Macramé, held in the artist’s Los Angeles studio in 2006. Amidst the chrome trolleys, neon signs, dream catchers, cowboy hats, hookah pipes, and camel saddles which partially constitute the installation, guests were invited to contribute to Rhoades’s ongoing project of creating a cross-cultural compendium of euphemisms for female genitalia. Evolving to fit each location, the installation debuted at Hauser & Wirth in 2005 and traveled to David Zwirner in 2007. The catalogue, conceived by and designed in conjunction with the artist, includes a foreword by Kevin West, West Coast editor of W magazine, as well as photographs by Joshua White and Alexia Pilat. 

Jason Rhoades

Installation view of Black Pussy, 2006
Wire metal shelving, 185 neon phrases, dream catchers, beaver-felt cowboy hats, Chinese scholar stones, hookah pipes, camel saddle footstools, glass vegetables, glass vases, Chinese rag rugs, L'Aiglon belts, ceramic donkey carts, Egyptian pyramids, corn cobs, mini-spotlights, and other various materials
Overall dimensions vary with installation (3000 square feet, approximately 278.7 square meters)

Jason Rhoades

Installation view of Black Pussy, 2006
Wire metal shelving, 185 neon phrases, dream catchers, beaver-felt cowboy hats, Chinese scholar stones, hookah pipes, camel saddle footstools, glass vegetables, glass vases, Chinese rag rugs, L'Aiglon belts, ceramic donkey carts, Egyptian pyramids, corn cobs, mini-spotlights, and other various materials
Overall dimensions vary with installation (3000 square feet, approximately 278.7 square meters)

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