Magazine article Artforum International

Jason Rhoades Talks about His Impala Project

Magazine article Artforum International

Jason Rhoades Talks about His Impala Project

Article excerpt

I'm not really a car person. They're interesting tools. They're sometimes great facilities, great pieces of architecture, but I'm not a fanatic about it. Actually, I kind of like it when they break down. A lot of my work is about this fucked-up perpetual-motion machine that seems to run on its own.

The Impala's part of a long lineage, both in my own experience and in art history. Primarily, it relates to Picabia - he supposedly owned about 160 cars. What's interesting to me are the dynamics between his work as an artist and his passions - be it women, cars, or ships. The car captures the modernist idea of going forward, faster and faster. It's the pure modernist dream of acceleration. It wasn't until one realized that it was going too fast that the breaks were invented. That, I guess, is postmodernism. Anyhow, in LA we have these completely fucked-up distances. I spend hours going to my studio, so I established this extension of my studio, or rather this second space, in my Caprice.

I think the greatest difference between how people perceive LA and Europe has to do with how one approaches and how one leaves something. In LA you find a place to park, then you pull in and leave your car. Everything after that is dependent on this experience. In Europe it's a whole different thing, with trains and buses. Since I spend so much time here and like driving so much, I decided to bring the Impala over and create a kind of in-between space, a little like the way my Caprice functions between my studio and the shops in LA. So I've established this in-between museum in a car. It's called "Impala SS" - "International Museum Project About Leaving and Arriving." The SS, which stood for Super Sport, I interpret as the Super Space.

What I want is this big American space. Something comfortable and elegant. And now this space exists in-between these pathetic European Kunsthalles that seem completely outdated. These old European art institutions just aren't meant for artists who work today. If you need something mechanical, like screws, they won't have what you need. I wanted this truly progressive space that moves forward. So I shipped this car over.

The Impala will probably stay here in Europe; it'll run with California plates for two years. It'll probably eventually find its place as a sculpture - that's what happened to the Caprice. By going between places, it will generate things. It'll snowball, take on a mythology and a history, and then at some point it'll just stop. And that'll be it, it'll be a finished sculpture. The project just started, though, so maybe it's not that easy to say. For the first exhibition I remade this piece Dieter Roth did in LA in '70, these suitcases full of cheese that melted into the floor of the gallery. I also asked Sylvie Fleury for something for the glove box. I met Dieter at the opening and talked about the myth of this piece he did in LA and he said he didn't think anybody had seen it or understood it.

The Caprice for me is a bit of a mistress. You go out with it into the night to be alone, and you listen to the radio. You have a relationship with it, you have a date. I like that the Caprice smells feminine; it's sexy. So I'm really happy with Sylvie's piece for the Impala. I told her I was going to have Dieter in the back and invited her to do something in the glove compartment. …

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