Ritual Weaponry Jonah King 16 January — 31 March
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Jonah King's work is poetic, poignant and pleasurable. That last one might have caught you by surprise, but there is something deeply pleasing about finding oneself lost in one of King's projects. So when I had the opportunity to turn my bedroom into a gallery space, I knew that their work had to be one of the first exhibitions, from both the altruistic impulse to share the work, and the selfish one of contriving a way for me personally to indulge in the practice.
For 138313’s first presentation of King’s work I chose the series Leisure Sports as a way to focus on humanity's occupation of the environment in conjunction with the Thanksgiving holiday.
Across a desolate desert backdrop, two elderly white gentlemen play golf in the three-channel film How The West Was Won, a reference to the epic Western film of the same name that depicts a multi-generational family's migration across the United States. While this piece is the central crux of Leisure Sports as a body of work, the film has generated a myriad of other works, including Ritual Weaponry and OK BOOMER (The Good News Is he Thinks I’m God).
Leisure Sports as a burgeoning conceptual investigation was first exhibited in 2018 at Clima Gallery in Milan. King has since continued to elaborate on the project at large with new works like Other Fallen Empires, as well as new methods of presentation. For example, HistoryOf.Golf serves as a rich virtual trove of their research surrounding the primary themes of the project. Perhaps the main difference seen in this current iteration is the display of the Ritual Weaponry series in its final resting place, which came together after a field trip to the Met, the temple-like container that holds and defines our cultural history, present and future. HistoryOf.Golf serves as a rich trove of their research surrounding the primary themes of the project.
Read on for more—
How The West Was Won 2018 Three-channel HD video installation; 17:24m Variable dimensions Edition 3/4 + 2 AP
To create How the West Was Won, Jonah King collaborated with California residents Joseph Miller and Richard Milanesi, two self-proclaimed avid golfers and Donald Trump supporters. King invited Miller and Milanesi to play a game of golf across the expansive western Mojave desert, which King documented. The documentation from the collaboration ultimately became this three-channel video. How the West Was Won shares the title of the 1962 ultra-widescreen American western film, which opens with this narration: “This land has a name today and is marked on maps. But the names and the marks and the land all had to be won. Won from nature and from primitive man”. This film and unnerving quote about westward expansion contextualizes the entire exhibition—not just in the artwork’s content but also its mediums. For instance, King’s stunning ultra-wide video directly references the format of the original film, but in the place of gallant cowboys trailblazing western trails there are two older white men, in casual sports attire, playing an eternal round of golf in the middle of the Mojave Desert—a foreboding foreshadow of the consequences of climate change. Like two ghosts, the golfers seem to be forever destined to haunt the barren landscape, not with rattling chains, but with swinging golf clubs.
OK BOOMER (The Good News Is he Thinks I’m God) 2019 Two-channel HD video mounted in portrait frames on wood and steel fireplace mantel; 17:45m. 50 x 61 x14 inches
California residents and avid golfers Joseph Wilson and Richard Morgan collaborate with the artist again—instead of playing the impossible game of golf across the Mojave Desert (seen in King's How The West Was Won video work) the two men simply exchange dad jokes to one another. This piece is an intimate view of the two golfers who do not speak throughout the How The West Was Won video work. Once again King uses humor to probe at something more substantial. After a chuckle at a few jokes, the artist challenges the viewer to consider the essence of the jokes—what are the jokes about? Who is dominated in the jokes? From what social class are the jokes told from? And so on. The seemingly innocent telling of jokes can reveal cultural divides that King connects back to the game of golf.
Other Fallen Empires 2021 Inkjet prints on cotton Dimensions variable
Qing dynasty 1636–1912 AD; Great Britain 1707 - 1801 AD; Macedonian Empire 808–148 BC; Mongol Empire 1206–1368 AD; Idrisid dynasty 788–974 AD; Almohad Caliphate 1121–1269 AD; Majapahit Empire 1293–1527 AD; Aztec Empire 1428–1521 AD; Ashanti Empire 1670–1902 AD; Tibetan Empire- 618–842 AD; Bornu Empire 1380–1893 AD; Mongol Empire 1206–1368 AD; Angevin Empire 1214–1259 AD; First Turkic Khaganate 552 – 603 AD; Artaxiad Dynasty 331 BC–428 AD; Rashidun Caliphate 632–661 AD; Saadi Dynasty 1509–1659 AD; Safavid Dynasty 1501-1736 AD; Holy Roman Empire 800 - 1806 AD; Empire of Brazil 1822-1889 AD; Spanish Empire 1492–1975 AD; Benin Empire 1180–1897 AD; French Colonial Empire 1534–1980 AD
The History of Golf 2021 Framed digital prints on vinyl Dimensions variable
The History of Golf is a site specific timeline that contextualizes climate change, westward expansion, colonialism, politics, and even the artist’s own artwork through the chronology of golf. Though in chronological order, the events King features in the timeline oscillate among a variety of geological and cultural proportions. Starting from the shifting of ancient tectonic plates in 200 million BCE and ending at 2020 when Donald Trump learns of his presidential loss to Joe Biden while golfing in Virginia, King highlights everything from the invention of golf, Christopher Columbus, the movement of Native Americans throughout the west, the Declaration of Independence to the American Civil War, the production of the original film How the West Was Won, the birth and meeting of the golfers that are featured in the artist’s film sharing the same title, Tiger Woods, and the most recent California wildfires. The History of Golf is a poignant statement about the brevity of human existence and domination veiled by the artist’s cunning use of humor and coincidence.
Ritual Weaponry (2021.001.1, 2021.001.2, 2021.001.3, 2021.001.4, 2021.001.5] 2021) (top)
Ritual Weaponry (2021.001.6, 2021.001.7, 2021.001.8, 2021.001.9) (bottom)
Golf clubs, resin, sand, and salt in custom frames. 20 x 40 inches
Ritual Weaponry (2021.001.10, 2021.001.11) 2021 Golf clubs, resin, sand, and salt in custom pedestal. 50 x 15 x 15 inches
As if they were excavated from a dig site, the remains of these deteriorated golf clubs suspend the viewer in an archaeological paradox, in which the audience is faced with a typical sporting object as it would be presented as a relic thousands of years in the future in a museum. The artist's re-contextualization of the golf club releases the object from its present cultural significance. By releasing this object from its present cultural ties, the viewer is able to critique the clubs in a more critical and archeological way—What was this used for? Is this a weapon or was this for sport? Who played this sport and why? What happened to this sport?