Story of the RIO, 1983

Basel 2019
Lisson Gallery
Plastic, glass, books, plaster, metal fittings, spray paint; 18 panels, 150 x 85 cm each, in total 150 x 1530 x 2 cm
Story of the RIO (reflective intuitive organism) is a sequence of 18 glass, plastic, plaster, and book-relief panels by the pioneering conceptual artist John Latham, which depicts the development of a complex universe and refers back to a series of works he made between 1959–60. Called the ‘Observer Reliefs,’ these works represent three states of human existence. Latham used the three protagonists of the Dostoyevsky novel The Brothers Karamazov (1880) to explain these states. Mitya is the instinctive being, whose behavior is genetically determined and non-reflective. The Ivan state is more ordered and represents the rational being, at once empowered and limited by their intellectual state and learnt knowledge. The most enlightened Alyosha state is the reflective/intuitive being who encompasses the characteristics of the other two, but also has the ability to observe things as a whole and is capable of original thought – this person sees things from the perspective of a longer ‘time-base.’