This December, Los Angeles-based artist Ry Rocklen unveils his installation Night Court, produced in collaboration with Absolut as the setting for a pop-up art bar during Art Basel in Miami Beach. Night Court is at once a bar, a performance venue, a sports arena and a showroom for Rocklen’s new line of furniture, ‘Trophy Modern’.
Night Court is the latest and most ambitious incarnation of a project that began in 2011 when Rocklen came across a haul of second-hand sports trophies for sale in a thrift store. Rocklen spends a lot of time in junk shops and flea markets, trawling for those objects that were once cherished but which are now almost at the end of their lives. In the purgatory of the second-hand store, these ex-possessions have one last chance to be valued again.
3D renditions by: Ry Rocklen Photo by: Alexa Karolinski
“Night Court is at once a bar, a performance venue, a sports arena and a showroom for Rocklen’s new line of furniture, ‘Trophy Modern’. ”
When, in the course of making the sculpture, Rocklen discovered the wholesale catalogs of the companies that supply the componentry to trophy-makers, it struck him that he could use the parts to build any object he chose. The first public presentation of the furniture that he branded as ‘Trophy Modern’ was in early 2013, at an art fair in Los Angeles. Installed in an otherwise empty booth were Rocklen’s couch, chairs and coffee table, made almost entirely from trophy parts. Aside from the gold and silver cushions, and boards laminated with a white marble-pattern, the furniture is a colorful array of dazzling columns supporting eagles, soccer balls, globes, stars and laurels – all coated in gold paint.
‘Trophy Modern’s basic model is the American Diner chair; the Emerald Club is a wider club chair, while the World Couch is adorned with miniature globes. Absolut’s commission of Night Court has provided Rocklen with the opportunity to add new pieces to the line. A horseshoe bar, built around a central island, is accompanied by barstools featuring large gold basketballs beneath their padded seats. Benches and bleachers will provide additional seating for guests who – if the competitive spirit moves them – will also be able to challenge each other across ‘Trophy Modern’ table-tennis tables and chess tables. The entire venue is arranged over a fullscale basketball court, which Rocklen will mark out on the carpet; while no actual balls will be thrown, Night Court will encourage guests to reflect on the competitive aspects of the space. In an art fair, schmooze and socialization is a serious business.
Photos by: Alexa Karolinski
Text: Jonathan Griffin Still Photo: Keaton Ventura & Elisabeth Toll
Movie: Alexa Karolinski