Showing during October, the timelapse video of the new installation at the VCU Institute of Contemporary Art. 

The Provocations series takes its name from the design of the ICA’s True Farr Luck Gallery. Architect Steven Holl referred to the sculptural ceiling, cathedral-like acoustics and ample natural light, as a “provocation for artists to engage.”

The first to take up this challenge is Chicago native Rashid Johnson, whose work explores themes of African-American history as well as questions of racial and cultural identity. Johnson’s response to the space takes the form of “Monument,” a large-scale, pyramid-like structure.

Although officially categorized as “sculpture,” “Monument” is a work that defies simple definition. Assembled in just four days by a team of installers directed by Johnson, the geometric structure combines towering metal frames with an assemblage of tropical plants, handcrafted ceramics, shea-butter sculptures, and video displays. The structure is further activated by weekly performances by local musicians, dancers, DJs, spoken-word artists and more. These free, drop-in performances add another level of meaning to the piece — artists responding to an artist.

Interpretation is largely left to the viewer. Whether one simply enjoys the surface-level beauty or chooses to dive deeper into its multiple layers of meaning, “Monument” is a work that encourages exploration and contemplation.

“Provocations: Rashid Johnson” is on view at the ICA through July 7, 2019.  See for a schedule of performances.

This post by Chelsea Neal, Marketing and Production Assistant, Institute for Contemporary Art, Virginia Commonwealth University


Categories ICA, News