“The Political Seducer’s Diary:” Ryder Richards

December 2 – 8, 2017

Ryder Richards is a Dallas-based artist who was a fellow at Roswell Artist-in-Residence from September 2012 until August 2013, held the art department chair at Eastfield College in Mesquite, TX, and is now an independent artist.­ Richards is a co-founder of the RJP NOMADIC GALLERY (a traveling art gallery), CULTURE LABORATORY (internet based collective exhibiting internationally) and Dallas-based group THE ART FOUNDATION. He has curated and exhibited in numerous exhibitions (including an exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art) and is the recipient of several scholarships, travels abroad, and awards for his achievements in art, including seven artist-in-residence programs, including the Roswell Artist-in-Residence (2012-2013). Writing for Glasstire.comD Magazine, and other publications prompted Richards to found Eutopia: Contemporary Art Review focused on concise arts writing. Richards has exhibited at the Bellevue Museum, Seattle; Roswell Museum, Roswell, NM; Olm Space, Switzerland; Public Address, Brooklyn; Antena, Chicago; Falling Water, Pennsylvania; Cornell University, Ithaca; Monkskirche, Tangermunde, Germany; C2 Pottery Gallery, China; Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum, San Antonio; ArtPace, San Antonio; The Luminary, St. Louis ; Lawndale, Houston; Amarillo Museum of Art; San Diego Art Institute; The London Art Fair; as well as The Power Station, The Reading Room, Beefhaus, and Gray Matters in Dallas. He has participated in The Texas Biennial 2011 and 2013 and the Dallas Biennial 2012 and 2014. Richards has works in the permanent collections of The Anderson Contemporary Museum, Roswell Museum, McNeese University, Richland College, and several private collectors.


Notes from the Curator:

There is so much to unpack about Ryder’s show but there are three things I want to highlight. First, the use of text. Second, the prominence of the building not acquiescence of seduction. Third, the idea of the rigidity not frailty of seduction.

First, Ryder has taken sections of Kierkegaard’s text as a literal instruction manual for the construction of seduction. While the protagonist of “The Seducer’s Diary” is using an internalized methodology for wooing women, Ryder is materializing and externalizing it. The quotes and text guide us along the way, which is especially helpful in the first few posts.

Second, if you look at the number of videos in Ryder’s show, we can see that the emphasis is on the preparation of the seduction not the seduction itself. In Kierkegaard’s text, as in Ryder’s show, seduction is not necessarily seen as teleological (with a goal in mind) but as instrumental (the way in which a goal is achieved). The work and enjoyment comes form the planning and construction of the seduction not the seduction itself.

Third, Kierkegaard asks us to reconsider the notion of “wooing” as a rigid process that can be used and reused with a relatively successful and predictable outcome. In most cases we consider “wooing” as an ephemeral activity that involves indescribable emotions, rapidly beating hearts and bad poetry. Kierkegaard relies on these typical reactions and uses them as components of a highly structured plan. For Ryder, instead of ephemeral materials and activities, he, again, materializes and externalizes the emotional and internal by using construction materials: cement blocks, plywood, utility buckets not roses, love letters and romantic dinners. He physically – not mentally – prepares for the seduction by working out with the materials.

Of course, what cannot be ignored is the “failure” of the seduction – Ryder drinking a beer by himself. But this “failure” is ultimately revealed as a celebration because he did not want to really woo anyone to begin with.

So, what we can see in Ryder’s show is a correlation but subversion of the text by materializing the ephemeral, externalizing the internal, and physically emphasizing the instrumental – not teleological – purpose of “wooing.”



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