Empty Pockets centers its narrative on the game of pool or billiards played outside in the public realm, as is common in neighborhoods in South Africa. Executed within the urban decay of Johannesburg’s periphery, Rhode references the Babylonian worldview of a flat earth that stands on pillars; the introduction of a spherical object (the pool balls) interrupts the firmament or horizon. The pool table appears upside down (Rhode has subverted the original photographic image in post production) so that the balls appear to be floating in mid air. The atmosphere repositions the balls within the two-dimensional space. Rhode renders this space in three dimensions through the combination of his painting and the figure enacting the game. The figure is more of a form than a character, functioning as a vector, with the pool table as the axis upon which the action itself is mapped out. Within each frame, art historical sources come to mind – the Vitruvian Man, Mondrian’s minimalism — are grounding but ultimately fleeting.
The animation will be included in Rhode’s solo show at the Hayward Gallery curated by Stephanie Rosenthal opening this September. Other upcoming exhibitions and projects include a site-specific installation for Prospect.1, the New Orleans Biennale directed by Dan Cameron, an exhibition at White Cube in London in November, and a solo show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in February 2009.