Jennifer Rubell

Jennifer Rubell (b. 1970) is an American conceptual artist whose work centers on the viewer’s physical interaction with the object.  She works in a wide variety of participatory mediums ranging from interactive sculpture, painting and video to food performance.

Selected performances and exhibitions include: Landscapesat Fondation Beyeler in Riehen, Switzerland; Old-Fashioned, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Creation, for Performa, the New York performance-art festival;Made in Texas andNutcrackers, at the Dallas Contemporary; So Sorry, at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto; The de Pury Diptychat the Saatchi Gallery, London; Send in the Clownsat the Hirshhorn, Washington, DC; Icons, at the Brooklyn Museum.

Rubell received a B.A. from Harvard University in Fine Arts. She lives and works in New York City.

Following works were reviewed at Platform 28 during summer 2018 when “food” was studies as a drive for creative production.

Padded Cell 
November 6, 2010

Padded cell is an 8’X16’ freestanding room constructed of basic building materials, with a single door that contains a plexiglass window. Inside, the walls and ceiling are padded with pink cotton candy, and a bare light bulb hangs in the center. The door is opened at 9pm, but the interior is visible through the window throughout the evening. 
The Red Party’s main dinner is served inside a Russian-themed constructivist set, and Padded Cellacts as an escape from that, an all-American funhouse that is at the same time confining, threatening, claustrophobic. It is an object that addresses the dark side of pleasure, the price of pleasure, the possibility that pleasure is its own punishment.
Approximately 1,600 cones of cotton candy are used in its construction.

The de Pury Diptych 
June 21, 2010

Participants enter the Saatchi Gallery and are directed to the 2nd floor. At the back of this level, Simon and Michaela de Pury are enclosed in two small, separate glass-fronted rooms, each getting dressed.  Simon shaves.  Michaela gets a massage. In the two large galleries on Michaela's side, there is a pedestal of champagne flutes and champagne; and a stainless steel pedestal covered in crushed ice, lemon halves and oysters. In the two large galleries on Simon's side, there is a plywood pedestal of knives and pickles, with 100 dried sausages hanging down from above; and a plywood pedestal of beer glasses and taps dispensing beer. At precisely 8pm, Simon breaks the glass front of his room with a hammer, then goes over to Michaela's room and breaks into it.  They walk down to a balcony, drink a glass of champagne, and toss their glasses over the rail into a false gallery built into the gallery below.  All participants follow suit, breaking 3,600 glasses in all. As participants walk downstairs, they see through plexiglass the glasses falling into the false gallery and breaking. On the first floor, arranged in a grid are 69 full-size mattresses, made up sloppily with white sheets, loosely referencing Tracey Emin's My Bed. Silver platters of bloody roast beef, beets, big salads, potatoes, asparagus are divided among the beds. Next to each bed are a few bottles of wine and water; a few cases of Jack Daniel’s at others; glasses in their cartons, forks, knives; paper towels. Downstairs on the ground floor there are 100 cakes from 100 bakeries in London, each costing approximately 100 GBP. The purveyors range from from small ethnic bakeries to posh organic artisanal shops, forming a conceptual portrait in wedding cake of the city of London.


Participants arrive and are directed up a ramp. At the top of the ramp is an extraordinary string quartet dressed in tuxedoes. Formally dressed waiters pass exquisite hors d’oeuvres and cocktails. Doors to all the studios are closed. Slowly the music becomes more modern, until it is pure cacophony, barely noticed. At precisely 8pm, a large door is slammed open. Participants enter the adjacent room, where they find a large pedestal of hammers and safety goggles. One wall has a very large mirror on it. Loud drumming can be heard coming from an adjacent room. Eventually someone tries breaking the wall between the hammer room and the room where the music seems to be coming from. Others follow suit. The entire wall is broken down, revealing its materials: styrofoam, stunt mirror. In the adjacent room is a pedestal with 16 legs of lamb on it, plus knives to carve it. Long, uncovered tables are set with other family-style makings of a meal. As participants exit, they encounter a room with a pedestal of balloons, then several pedestals each containing a single pincushion filled with pushpins. Upon breaking the balloons, a dessert is found inside.


'Creation' was inspired by the first few chapters of Genesis, and three scenes in particular: the creation of the Garden of Eden, with Adam tilling the soil; the creation of woman; and the expulsion and Fall. The location was chosen mainly for the use it no longer has, as the DIA Center for the Arts. This seemed appropriate for what is fundamentally a story of exile by choice. On each floor are a series of food installations that people can and must interact with in order to have a meal. On the fourth floor are the drinking components: 3,600 glasses of varying sizes and shapes; one ton of ice cubes, with 30 ice scoops mounted on the wall; one ton of roasted peanuts in the shell, in a pile; and, in the 28-foot-long elevator, a pedestal of wine, liquor and mixers. On the third floor are the savory meal components: one ton of barbecued ribs, with honey dripping on them from a honey trap mounted to the ceiling; five tables, each seating 100, with a series of pots running down the center filled with side dishes, forks, knives, toothpicks, napkins, and wetnaps; and groupings of water coolers, filled with red wine, white wine, and water. The liquor elevator descends to this floor. On the second floor are the dessert components: three felled apple trees, with their apples still on the branches; three nearly four-foot-cubed industrial bags filled with powdered sugar, with cookies buried inside and shoulder-length gloves to fish them out; and seven chocolate facsimiles of Jeff Koons ‘Rabbit’ sculpture, with hammers mounted on the pedestals to destroy them. The liquor elevator also descends to this floor. The project as a whole serves many functions: as a commentary on the artisanal, the original, the unique and the appropriated; as an exploration of ways to engage art history through a medium virtually absent from it; as a catalyst for a working interaction between viewers and objects, and viewers and each other; as a meal; and as a questioning of the boundary between art and all that exists to support it.