Rodney McMillian: Regarding Violence

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Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm

520 W 25th Street, NY 10001, New York, United States
Open: Tue-Sat 10am-6pm


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Rodney McMillian: Regarding Violence

to Sat 7 Jan 2023

520 W 25th Street, NY 10001 Rodney McMillian: Regarding Violence

Tue-Sat 10am-6pm


Petzel presents Regarding Violence, an exhibition of recent works by Los Angeles-based artist Rodney McMillian. McMillian’s mixed-genre practice activates objects and texts from the past to locate their reverberating effects on the present. Spanning the two largest rooms, McMillian’s second exhibition at Petzel reflects the artist’s ongoing interest in teasing apart the political conditions that continue to enable systems of inequity.

Artworks

Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood, faux plants
914 × 1549 × 889 mm
61 x 36 x 35 inches 154.9 x 91.4 x 88.9 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood, faux plants
800 × 902 × 660 mm
35 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 26 inches 90.2 x 80 x 66 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
533 × 749 × 406 mm
29 1/2 x 21 x 16 inches 74.9 x 53.3 x 40.6 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
787 × 711 × 597 mm
28 x 31 x 23 1/2 inches 71.1 x 78.7 x 59.7 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
800 × 1016 × 495 mm
40 x 31 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches 101.6 x 80 x 49.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
826 × 1295 × 584 mm
51 x 32 1/2 x 23 inches 129.5 x 82.6 x 58.4 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
673 × 1397 × 521 mm
55 x 26 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches 139.7 x 67.3 x 52.1 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
1067 × 1537 × 756 mm
60 1/2 x 42 x 29 3/4 inches 153.7 x 106.7 x 75.6 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood, faux plants
838 × 2032 × 743 mm
80 x 33 x 29 1/4 inches 203.2 x 83.8 x 74.3 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen (group of 4), 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood, faux plants
Dimensions variable
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, faux plants, wood
965 × 1276 × 660 mm
50 1/4 x 38 x 26 inches 127.6 x 96.5 x 66 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, styrofoam
1003 × 876 × 648 mm
34 1/2 x 39 1/2 x 25 1/2 inches 87.6 x 100.3 x 64.8 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood, faux plants
838 × 1956 × 686 mm
77 x 33 x 27 inches 195.6 x 83.8 x 68.6 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
965 × 1219 × 743 mm
48 x 38 x 29 1/4 inches 121.9 x 96.5 x 74.3 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, wood
737 × 813 × 394 mm
32 x 29 x 15 1/2 inches 81.3 x 73.7 x 39.4 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Beacon: Comrades, Don't Be Fooled, 2022

Lamp, decoy ducks, pedestal, circuit board
Dimensions Variable
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Sky (Paradise) VI, 2022

Vinyl and thread
4991 × 3531 mm
139 x 196 1/2 inches 353.1 x 499.1 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Preacher Man II, 2017 - 2021

Color video with sound
Duration: 29:09 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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God is in the Whip, 2017 - 2021

Color video with sound
Duration: 33:33 minutes
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Sky (Star Child) VII, 2022

Vinyl and thread
3512 × 3200 mm
126 x 138 1/4 inches 320 x 351.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Sky (Untitled) VIII, 2022

Vinyl and thread
2235 × 2794 mm
110 x 88 inches 279.4 x 223.5 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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Specimen, 2022

Fabric, chicken wire, gel medium, metal rods, faux plants, wood
787 × 1194 × 686 mm
47 x 31 x 27 inches 119.4 x 78.7 x 68.6 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York

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In a large installation, decoy ducks scatter the floor around a taxidermized head of a deer, previously incorporated by its hunter into the post of a lamp. Invoking ethnographic museum display strategies, McMillian reconfigures these cultural artifacts to surface systems of violence and consumption that underlie contemporary relations to the American landscape. The lamp’s blinking light denaturalizes these recirculated objects with its Morse-coded warning: “Comrades, don’t be fooled!”


The ethnographic vernacular extends to the next room, in which McMillian mummifies in white papier-mâché organic shapes that evoke Modernist sculptures. They stand on contrasting plinths – logs, turfed grass, volcanic boulders of foam – that further situate the objects in the realm of taxidermies. Yet, by dubbing them “specimens,” McMillian at once buries the objects as dead entities on display while enlivening more critical aesthetic relations to their canonized forms. A similar duality embodies the industrial-grade black vinyl works, or sky paintings, that line the walls. Though largely abstract, the wall-hangings intimate at skin, carefully stitched. On a societal level, the seams translate to the turbulent constructions of social, cultural, and economic delineations. “The abstraction is about the shock of the politics, the shock of the murder and death, the shock of the history,” says McMillian.


The two video projections nearby place violence within a political landscape to explore its relation to race. In Preacher Man II (2017–2021), a lay clergyman seats himself at a crossroad in front of subtropical foliage. He interweaves his sermon with a text by the civil rights activist Kwame Ture (alias Stokely Carmichael). The original text, written at the height of the Black Power movement, stresses how liberalism is a foot soldier for white supremacy, probing questions about who has right to violence, and by extension, at what point violence becomes state sanctioned. In the other video, God Is In The Whip (2017–2021), a Ronald Reagan-masked protagonist reads excerpts from The Conscience of a Conservative – a demagogical text penned by the conservative politician Barry Goldwater. Intermittently, the character cracks a bullwhip at a blank canvas, commending the tool’s efficacy in rendering landscape paintings. In the gaps of these juxtaposed references, McMillian tugs at a violence from the past that haunts today’s unresolved political struggles in its eerie resonances.


About Rodney McMillian


Rodney McMillian lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. McMillian explores the complex and fraught connections between history and contemporary culture, not only as they are expressed in American politics, but also as they are manifest in American modernist art traditions. Aspects of his work negotiates between the body of a political nature and the politic of a bodily nature.


McMillian received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts in 2002. His installation In This Land, 2019 was on view as part of the New Work series at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art from February 9–June 9, 2019. He has a solo exhibition on view at the Underground Museum in

Los Angeles, CA through February 16, 2020. He received the Contemporary Austin’s first Suzanne

Deal Booth Art Prize in 2016, and the resulting solo exhibition Against a Civic Death was on view through August 26, 2018. In 2016, McMillian had solo exhibitions at the ICA Philadelphia, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and MoMA PS.1. Each of these exhibitions highlighted a particular set of material and conceptual concerns in McMillian’s multivalent practice. Other recent solo exhibitions include Landscape Paintings, Aspen Art Museum, CO (2015); Sentimental Disappointment, Momentum 14: Rodney McMillian, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, MA (2009); The Kitchen, New York (2008). McMillian’s work was featured in the 2015 Sharjah Biennial, curated by Eungie Joo. His work has also been included in group exhibitions at The National Portrait Gallery, London, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA; the CCA Wattis Institute, San Francisco, CA; the Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; the Contemporary Art Museum Houston; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art among many others.


Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York


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