Pin It

Searching Los Angeles for rubbish art

Ry Rocklen scours the streets looking for scraps that he can transform into sculpture

TextFrancesca GavinPhotographyHae Ran

Taken from the Spring 2014 issue of Dazed:

Ry Rocklen is a sculptor who makes things out of found detritus, from roadkill furniture to Trophy Modern, a series of objects made from old and new shiny parts. The born-and-bred Californian adds skill, craft and complexity to manufactured objects that are familiar and at the same time invisible. He begins his creation process by wandering the streets of LA looking for the crap we all throw away.

“I am not always looking for stuff but my eyes are inevitably always open, especially when I’m driving. Other times I may have something specific in mind, which I will zig-zag through neighbourhoods hunting for. I tend to look in areas with a lot of stuff set out by the curb. This includes around my studio in Lincoln Heights, which is just north of downtown Los Angeles.

My loose criteria are that the object was used habitually, is culturally transcendent and has a relationship to elemental forces. An old mattress, a chair, a window curtain or umbrella. An object that we have almost an instinctual feeling about. The effectiveness of the sculpture comes through in the subversion of the surface. I’ll take a mattress then fibre-blast the outside and lay tiles on it. 

I was walking around one day in an alleyway and I saw this grey hooded sweatshirt. It had been run over and almost looked like it wanted to become part of the concrete. Super flat. I had it plated in silver. It was a perfect transformation. It almost became mercurial or a puddle of molten metal. It’s subverting the expectation of the material.”