i was fortunate to see rashid johnson's installation @ the MCA - museum of contemporary art, which opened the night following my opening in denver. the huge blocks of shea butter scented the atmosphere. here's a detail of heavy, dark, burned and carved imagery. see below for MCA's write up.
"In Rashid Johnson: New Growth, the artist works with personally and historically loaded material such as shea butter and black soap, combining it with LP covers and books in complex paintings, sculptures and installations. His works challenge conventional representations of collective identity. Beginning with the question, “What would happen if Sun Ra, George Washington Carver and Robert Smithson started a community together in the desert?” New Growth's playful scrutiny intertwines cosmology and escapism in an attempt to blur the lines separating past, present and future.
The physical manipulation of biomaterial into an abstract, aestheticized form is a concept that runs through all of the works in the exhibition. Johnson references the ongoing transformation of both bodies and landscapes, and the identities embedded within them. New Growth features newly commissioned works including the video Samuel in Space and the Shea Butter Irrigation System. Works in wax, burned wood, tile and mirror, as well as brass chairs, wood chairs and rugs round out the exhibition."