Mimi Zeiger

Critic, editor, curator and instigator.

For his 2019 exhibition DAMNATION at Sprüth Magers, LA, Sterling Ruby presented a 33-minute video projection titled STATE. The piece compiles years’ worth of aerial footage of California’s prison system, which encompasses 35 adult institutions. The idea of incarceration and the USA’s prison system is something the multidisciplinary artist explored extensively for 15 years, with exhibitions between 2005 and 2008 before returning to the subject for DAMNATION; Ruby once described “Supermax penitentiaries as being an allegory for a contemporary hell … an inaccessible parallel world”.

Ruby’s studio, where his wide-reaching work is created – spanning ceramics, textiles, collage, drawing, painting, photography, fashion, video, metalwork, sculpture – is based in Vernon, California. And it’s here that the artist and his team were photographed by Mario Sorrenti for Another Man’s 30th issue, guest edited by Jo-Ann Furniss. “When I first moved to LA, I was fascinated by the extremely rural patches with people living on them, and then suddenly there could be a luxury high-rise condo. There are mountains with snow, the desert, downtown, and the beach – it’s a schizophrenic landscape,” Ruby told Furniss.

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The celebrated multidisciplinary artist Sterling Ruby has long been concerned with freedom. With its degradation, its expression and its preservation – as well as its literal and conceptual importance in the identity of his home and homeland, America. Having grown up in Baltimore and rural Pennsylvania, and then studied in both Chicago and LA, Ruby has drawn from the contours of these variegated US landscapes, compiling a body of work that is equally aesthetically and texturally diverse. What all these environments have in common, though, is an epic scale – rural, urban, industrial – an element that has governed his practice since the start.

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