Ry Rocklen’s show Food Group: Genesis at Honor Fraser presents typical American foods and those that consume them from a new perspective. People in food costumes appear in small sculptures on paper plates, while in another room the food items appear large, reminiscent of the food sculptures of Claes Oldenburg.
From the press release–
Ry Rocklen’s sculptural practice is dedicated to the forms of the hyper familiar, an investigation of human subjectivity through the archetypal objects of our existence. Working with objects so familiar that they are committed to muscle memory and woven into our DNA, his artwork often aims to reclaim and exalt the individuality of the serialized object. For his exhibition with Honor Fraser, Rocklen will present Food Group: Genesis, an exploration of some of America’s favorite handheld foods through costume, 3D-printed sculpture, and video.
The iconic forms of tacos, burgers, pizza, and other fast foods served as inspiration for elaborate costumes that Rocklen rented from a Hollywood studio or fabricated himself. The artist and his collaborators were then scanned in the round wearing the costumes to create the source images, which were then 3D printed at the natural size of the foods they were wearing. The resulting collection of figurines form the core of Food Group: Genesis, an exhibition built around the simple concept of enlarging a familiar object with the purpose of shrinking it back to its natural size, a multiyear investigation by the artist.
In 2016, Ry Rocklen began production on Scale Model for the World’s Biggest T- Shirt, a T-shirt over 16 feet tall that was intended to be shrunken down to its normal size through a process similar to that used in the production of Food Group. After further consideration, the artist decided to also create a giant figure to wear the massive garment. He was then left with Mr. Pillowman, a giant made of pillows, after it had served its original purpose. As Rocklen continued his exploration of scale through Food Group, he came to think of Mr. Pillowman as the precursor to the Food Group endeavor and so it is included in the exhibition literally as the man behind the curtain.
At no point in the process of making the figurines are both the foodstuffs and the wearer their actual size, one is always enlarged while the other shrunken. They are simultaneously in and out of scale. The figurines are at once generic and intensely specific as they couple actual individuals with popular foods. They are devotional forms meant for devouring. They are both predator and prey, with an abundance of softening power.
Food Group can be a lens through which to view the world. The works are vehicles to explore issues of scale, media, form, desire, subjectivity, politics, and our environment. They are loci of delight, connection, guilt, and destruction. In the guise of ubiquitous foods, the costumes evoke an immediate relationship to the human body as it is affected by everything put into and on it, making food a means for sculpting oneself from within.
This exhibition closes 5/18/19.