To say David Rohn comes from another dimension might be overstating things a bit -- but not by much. The Miami-based artist, whose work is as much physical as it is visual, taps into and transforms all of our other dimensions in ways that are as sublime as they are surprising. On Friday night, Rohn opens Small, Medium and Large at Carol Jazzar Gallery. You will never think about size the same way again.
Wanna tell us a quick bit about Small, Medium and Large? Small, Medium and Large is a site-specific work concerned with hierarchy, scale and perception, and the way these relate to collective and personal dissolution. To me Carol Jazzar's gallery space, which I love, is like a Shinto temple.
More relevant for the current endeavor, it's a very iconic, house-like structure of great simplicity. House equals home equals self. So the structure became the starting point for developing an idea related to the idea of 'hierarchy' (things like pecking order, class systems and the way we have so much of this), and 'scale' (the way the fast food industry and a lot of other product/consumer systems market: supersize, economy, coach, Business Class, jumbo. etc). I went to a lot of trouble to actually build a medium, exactly half each dimension of the existing structure, and then one that's exactly half the 'medium' sized one. It seemed important to actually create these so they could be experienced alongside each other.
Would you say it's more Vito Acconci or Nam June Paik? Great question. I'm a fan of both Acconci and Paik. I may be more in the footsteps of Acconci because I make myself more or less present here, behind a curtain that can be peeked behind. I think Paik's use of ADD-action video is important because of the way it suspends linear experience, breaking images into quick takes the way TV and Internet carpet-bomb us with diverse advertising. Another artist I watch is Dan Cameron, who's used video and space to explore the idea of presence -- simulated presence, spatial separation, perception and time.
Is it the first time showing at Carol Jazzar? This is my third show at Carol Jazzar. In 2008, I did a show in the space atop a giant wedding dress, surrounded by tubs of milk, with a whispered voice reciting St Teresa of Avila writings on mystical union with God. I spoke through a video feed and mic to visitors who addressed a monitor face shot of me (the bride) from outside the gallery. It got interesting because even with the separation, people spoke to me in somewhat intimate and personal terms about their primary relationships.
In 2010 I built a bridge across Carol's pool and represented eight characters, also exhibited in portraits, many related to past performances, tied to the eight archetypes defined by the great 20th century Humanist Carl Jung.
How'd you and the delightful gallerist come to collide anyway? We met sometime back in the '90s, I believe even before the gallery opened. She once described my partner Adora (aka Danilo de la Torre) as "a genius," so we agreed on a lot of things from the get go. The gallery is unique; it's not as much a business as a labor of love, and it's probably supported more by artists and curators than collectors. She works steadily and relatively quietly alongside the bigger establishments -- a number of artists she's presented eventually moved on to bigger-selling Wynwood galleries -- and she's an important part of Miami's art scene. Recently Carol's been featuring a number of artists over 50, so in many ways her programs balance and even run counter to the mainstream tendencies dominant around town.
It's a privilege to work with her and to use her as a sounding board for ideas and idea development.
David Rohn's Small, Medium and Large opens Friday September 23, 7pm at Carol Jazzar Gallery. Also opening: Colby Katz's Forever Babies.