If these works offer an imaginative escape, or metaphysical transcendence, from the temporal particularities of life in Newclare, as well as the broader chaos of human societies around the world, their very existence lays testament to the community’s complex social fabric. Each work is the product of up to 16 people following the artist’s drawing and painting instructions, and takes 48 hours or so to complete. Rhode’s soldiers, as he calls them—he likens himself to a general, with six lieutenants—sleep under the paintings to protect them against vandalism during their fleeting life-span. The compositions are painted over within 24 hours of completion.
The impermanence of his works gestures not only at the existential conditions faced by Rhode’s crew, but also at the more universal experience of time. “I’ll create the monument, but I’ll tear the monument down as well,” the artist says. “The works exist for a short moment of time, related to the notion of life and death.”