The Shrine of Consumerism

Conceptual artist Jason Rhoades has a new exhibition up at Hauser & Wirth London called “The Black Pussy? and the Pagan Idol Workshop”. The interactive exhibition is inspired by pre-Islamic pagan culture.

“Rhoades has extensively researched an era in the history of the Ka’bah prior to the emergence of Islam. Before Islam, various cults and Arabic tribes made use of the holy shrine ?Ka?ba? to worship forms of idolatry, from pagan deities to figures relating to cultural gods. There were 360 such idols within and around the shrine, which were subsequently destroyed by the Prophet Muhammed when he rededicated the site to One God. In exploring the notion of the idol in contemporary society, Rhoades has spread through the main gallery space and Vault Room of Hauser & Wirth hundreds of different artefacts and texts that serve as a palette, alluding to the lonely sculptures and idols of the pre-Islamic Ka?ba.”

The press release points to a theme of the sacred and profane interacting through history. In the end the exhibition hopes to question our “problematic” obsession with preserving culture.

“The resulting moir? of chrome shelves, coloured chandeliers, pure UV black light, and ancient stones is an interpretation of the intersection between commerce and belief that the artist sees reoccurring throughout history. Rhoades proffers that the seemingly simple idea that culture must be protected is, in fact, a complex and problematic notion in pre-Islamic history, as well as in our own time. As with present-day museums, the Ka?bah once existed as a kind of safe haven; a holy place for various idolatry cults and tribes located in the region. The Ka?bah was originally built by Abraham and then adapted by local tribes as a landmark along the Arabian trade routes. For a fee, these clans would house and then tend to the idols as Mecca became a significant site of worship and commerce.”

You can view a short walkthrough on the gallery web site.