The Hierarchy Problem
Matthew Ritchie b. 1964, London
The Hierarchy Problem
Acrylic wall drawing, rubber and Tyvek carpet, photographic light box, and oil and marker painting
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Purchased with funds contributed by the International Director's Council and Executive Committee Members: Ruth Baum, Edythe Broad, Elaine Terner Cooper, Dimitris Daskalopoulos, Harry David, Gail May Engelberg, Shirley Fiterman, Nicki Harris, Dakis Joannou, Rachel Lehmann, Linda Macklowe, Peter Norton, Tonino Perna, Elizabeth Richebourg Rea, Mortimer D.A. Sackler, Simonetta Seragnoli, David Teiger, Ginny Williams, and Elliot K. Wolk, and Sustaining Members: Tiqui Atencio, Linda Fischbach, Beatrice Habermann, Miryam Knutson, and Cargill and Donna MacMillan, 2004
2004 "The Hierarchy Problem" Matthew Ritchie. Courtesy of the Artist and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York. Photo: Peter Oszvald
Matthew Ritchie regards artistic creation as analogous to the creation of the universe. Following this logic, Ritchie set out to develop an ongoing, alternative narrative for the genesis of the universe, and in the mid-1990s, he created a basic code that consists of 49 different colors, characters, natural elements, and attributes. These infinitely interchangeable components form the basis for his sprawling, multipart installations, such as The Proposition Player (2003). The title refers to the casino employee who engages unsuspecting customers into a game. In that installation, Ritchie—symbolically assuming the role of proposition player—uses gambling as a metaphor for unpredictable occurrences by giving museumgoers an opportunity to roll the dice and participate in a game of chance. The Hierarchy Problem (2003) consists of four, separately titled parts from The Proposition Player: a graffiti-like wall mural, an image illuminated on a light box, a maplike configuration of rubber cutouts on the floor, and a painting depicting tangled, densely wrought forms. Entitled Snake Eyes, the painting refers to the potential outcome of a roll of the dice, and represents the moment right before the Big Bang in the artist’s epic narrative.