Rindon Johnson’s The Valley of the Moon, his first solo exhibition with François Ghebaly, arises from this landscape of lunar doubling. Through a wide range of mediums and working styles, the exhibition presents a view into Johnson’s exploration of material history, economies of value, and the porosity of being human.
The exhibition opens with a trio of dyed leather sculptures, part of an ongoing series that uses furniture grade cowhide, a byproduct from industrial beef production. Johnson smeared the skins with polyurethane, indigo, coffee, salt and woodstain, then left them outside under the elements for over a year, where they gathered flows of rust, oak leaves, and the raining ash of a California fire season. These works build on Johnson’s notion of the byproduct as a broader historical and conceptual condition. Whereas furniture leather is a byproduct of industrial animal processing, and Vaseline a byproduct of petroleum refining, Johnson proposes that American Blackness itself is a byproduct of another capitalist megaindustry: the transatlantic slave trade. The series poses a number of questions—what overlapping systems have conspired to allow us to come into being? To come into thinking? How do we reckon with and reconceptualize our place in a broader ecology of exploitations and freedoms?
Rindon Johnson was born in 1990 in San Francisco on the unceded territories and ancestral lands of the Ohlone people. He currently lives and works in Berlin where he is an Associate Fellow at the Universität der Künste Berlin. Johnson is the author of four books of essays and poetry, The Law of Large Numbers: Black Sonic Abyss (SculptureCenter/Chisenhale Gallery, 2021), Shade the King (Capricious Press, 2017), No One Sleeps Better Than White People (Inpatient Press, 2016), and the virtual reality book Meet in the Corner (Publishing-House.Me, 2017). His first institutional solo exhibition, The Law of Large Numbers, is currently on view at SculptureCenter, New York and will travel to Chisenhale Gallery, London, in fall 2021. He is shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize and will present new work in associated exhibitions at PinchukArtCentre in Kyiv in 2021 and Venice in 2022. His collaborative exhibition This End the Sun with Maryam Hoseini and Jordan Strafer opens at the New Museum, New York, in June, 2021.