Jason Rhoades/Paul McCarthy
Sheep Plug
21. 06. 2004 - 29. 08. 2004
Sheep Plug
Kling & Bang gallery 21.June – 29.August
2004 (groundfloor)

See also SHEEP PLUG in the exhibition "Dyonisiac" at Pompidou Museum, Paris 2005;

Jason Rhoades and Paul McCarthy open their exhibition SHEEP PLUG at Kling & Bang gallery, Laugavegur 23, Reykjavik Iceland, Monday the 21st of June at 6.
In relation to the exhibition a parade will take place at the same date, starting at 11 o´clock from the studio place KlinK and BanK to the gallery space. Participants in the parade, beside the SHEEP PLUGS, are artists, the Street Theater and the working project of Reykjavik for teenagers.

About SHEEP PLUGS and the works:


“I’ve shit my pants three times in my adult life. Twice it was in the relative safety of my own bed and due to extreme illness. On that third occasion it was “beaver fever”, formally known as Giardia. Giardia is contracted by drinking contaminated water, such as the still fecal water of beaver ponds. I was in a provincial park and I cannot express the urgency with which I sought one of its far-flung outhouses. Walking as fast as I could, I resisted the urge to break into a full gallop, lest my bowels follow suit. My recollection of that event is crystalline, sitting on the port-a-potty with crap caked on my thighs. The stench of my feces overpowered even that of a hundred others. Hardly the stuff of heroic sculpture.”

- Craig Ferguson, excerpted from the essay Cabin Fever (Halifax, 2001)

During Documenta XI in Kassel, Germany, local artists Jan Northoff and Benne Ender painstakingly gathered the fecal matter from public toilets and washrooms, gifting the resulting collection of excrement of visiting critics, writers and curators to Los Angeles artists Jason Rhoades and Paul McCarthy. The compiled material was later reconstituted into Shit Plug, a collaborative work that draws direct reference to past sculptural projects undertaken by the artists both individually and as a duo. The sculpture’s bottle-like form -- a sex toy, butt plug, scaled up to eleven liters in capacity -- first appeared in McCarthy’s Plug Chair (Joke Chair) in 1978 and was later revisited by the artist in a series of "Santa" sculptures that were made in 2001. Despite the overt scatological associations, these related works were not about “crap” in the literal sense, rather the potent nature of the material itself as a metaphor for all things abject. In turn, for their exhibition Sheep Plug, Rhoades and McCarthy once again look to the “plug” as a vehicle to engage the viewer in a broader conversation about the human condition.

“Why do Scotsmen wear kilts? So the sheep won't hear the zipper.”

- Anonymous

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.”

- Winston Churchill, excerpt from address to Royal Academy of Arts (London, 1954)

Loosely following a traditional Icelandic soap recipe of sheep fat and lye, the formula for the material used to cast the “sheep plugs” has been slightly adapted to include two additional ingredients – native wool and dirt. An installation comprised of approximately two hundred of the resulting sculptures is now on view at Kling & Bang Gallery. The sheer quantity of these objects is overwhelming in itself, let alone envisioning the extent of the process undertaken to fabricate the individual forms -- a task documented in part by aspects of this exhibition. As with Shit-Sledge/Sleds, a work consisting of found industrial debris that was originally exhibited alongside Shit Plugs, the artifacts from Sheep Plug’s mass production -- moulds, materials and leftovers -- are relocated from the studio KlinK and BanK to the Kling & Bang gallery space. This presentation of manufactured waste alongside the art objects themselves not only reflects Rhoades’ and McCarthy’s ongoing dialogue with the ready-made and its coincidental form, but gives pause to consider the psychoanalytical nature of human byproducts and the culture of display.

Throughout the course of their respective careers, Jason Rhoades and Paul McCarthy have tested the boundaries of conventional artistic practice and aesthetics. For nearly forty years, McCarthy has created works that on various levels explore the underbelly of contemporary lifestyle. The sexually charged, often violent narratives evoked by his performance-based investigations tap into the subconscious of a society hopelessly embedded in the sins of capitalism. Conversely, the visual expanses presented by Rhoades’ fetishistic installations of re-ordered merchandise and goods offer an anecdotal attempt to counter and/or challenge the fast pace of consumerism itself. In Sheep Plug, their most recent collaborative effort, the artists put forth a new chapter to a continuing saga based in the sharing of their ideas, and in doing so, Rhoades and McCarthy succeed in merging the universal myths that accompany a dispelled American dream with a recently popularized Icelandic culture

- David Diviney

The exhibition SHEEP PLUG runs to 29th of August and Kling & Bang gallery opening hours are from thursday-sunday from 2-6.
Catalogue on the SHEEP PLUG project will be issued on the 2nd of July and can be approached at the gallery or at There is also SHEEP PLUG T-shirt for sale.
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Grandagarður 20 - 101 Reykjavík