“The work comes out of thinking about Downtown New York’s class problems and the meaning of $15–$20 luxury juice in the wake of the financial crisis.”
Josh Kline’s Skittles is a light box–encased commercial refrigerator. Behind its glass doors, 15 different “juice” flavors line its shelves, as if prompting those passing by to take one. But each bottle has a surprising list of ingredients—a purplish-brown slurry called “Supplements” features Rogaine, blueberries, and Viagra, while “Big Data” contains fragments of Google Glass eyewear, shredded Verizon phone bills, Omega-3 fish oil, Purell, and porn. “Minimum Wage” mixes Mr. Clean, money orders, medical scrubs, phone cards, and french fries. Each formula evokes the economies of goods, services, and technologies that surround us, infecting everything from our diets to our sex lives.
Kline and his studio manager, along with MoMA staff, mixed these indigestible drinks in the Museum’s conservation lab for the exhibition New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century, on view until June 15. MoMA acquired Kline’s work in 2015, yet this is the first time it is on view. Skittles has to be made anew each time it is shown, and it will morph and decay during the course of the exhibition. The ever-shifting solutions suggest the ways in which our bodies have been engineered, chemically altered, and transformed by technologies of consumption.
In this photo essay, Ellen Moody, The David Booth Associate Sculpture Conservator, Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture, and curatorial assistant Lina Kavaliunas capture the process of making and installing a work that requires a recipe for each future iteration, even as many of the work’s ingredients are destined to become obsolete.
All images taken from footage shot by Ben Effinger.
Skittles is on view in New Order: Art and Technology in the Twenty-First Century through June 15, 2019. The exhibition is organized by Michelle Kuo, The Marlene Hess Curator of Painting and Sculpture, with Lina Kavaliunas, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Painting and Sculpture. Buy tickets today.