Assembled and dismantled over the course of the Biennial, Sutter’s Mill is based on the California sawmill where the 1848 discovery of gold set off the California Gold Rush. A decade later, this land was purchased by Nancy and Peter Gooch, a formerly enslaved couple who eventually owned more than four hundred acres that were ultimately taken by the state under eminent domain laws to build a public park. Jason Rhoades (1965–2006) remarked: “Once they realized that it was gold, the whole world shifted. All of a sudden, they saw gold everywhere. . . . When something comes into focus, you see it. And this is like in a garden . . . where these things grow . . . when they become ripe, the whole system becomes literally and physically fruitful.”
The installation brings the conditions of manual working-class labor into dialogue with the United States’s history of wealth accumulation and financial speculation. It also symbolizes the constant tension between order and disorder, creation and destruction, that is involved in the process of making art. The structure of Sutter’s Mill is built out of the wood platforms and aluminum poles repurposed from Rhoades’s monumental sculpture Perfect World (1999).
Fridays, April 8–September 2
View all performances in the 2022 Whitney Biennial.
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