The Reliquary Room & Other Scenes from Detroit: Scott Hocking

Trotter&Sholer is pleased to present The Reliquary Room & Other Scenes from Detroit, a site-specifc exhibition by Scott Hocking (b. 1975), opening July 11th. Curated by Detroit-based arts professional Samara Johnson Furlong, the exhibition utilizes found objects, mixed-media sculptures, and site-specifc photography to chronicle the layered histories of Detroit, an archetypal American city. Hocking explores themes of archaeology, obsolescence, and the recontextualization of wasted materials into objects of beauty and art.


Hocking’s approach to both material and site are central to his practice. His work explores the endless transmogrification of urban America. A sixth-generation Detroiter, Hocking was born in Redford Township, a small working-class neighborhood along the Northwest border of Detroit. He spent much of his childhood immersed in the railways, junkyards, and industrial roots of the city. His practice can be read as a dialogue with this industrial history and forlorn landscape, characterized by collection, research, and revitalization of neglected spaces. His elevation of discarded objects and abandoned sites to high art is an act of remembrance and recognition.


The Reliquary Room & Other Scenes from Detroit offers New York visitors a peephole into the Detroit arts landscape, while also engaging in a larger conversation about decay, atrophy, and reconstruction in America. The exhibition is rooted in a large-scale installation that brings together wooden boxes, mixed media, and thousands of eroded man-made objects, gathered throughout Detroit over the past twenty-fve years. For this incarnation of RELICS at Trotter&Sholer, Hocking will utilize over one-hundred individual boxes to create an immersive floor-to-ceiling grid-like reliquary.


Beginning as a four-hundred box collaboration with Detroit artist Clinton Snider, the original RELICS installation was created for the City of Detroit’s Tricentennial at the Detroit Institute of Arts, and has since been reconfigured site-specifically dozens of times in museums and galleries worldwide, including exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Wien and his mid-career retrospective at the Cranbrook Art Museum. Based on ideas of scientific taxonomy, archeology, wunderkammers, and the talismanic qualities of ancient artifacts, the installation imagines natural history museums of the future, and plays off of how quickly objects from our time become obsolete. The works become portals, calling back to past lives and iterations of the contained objects, but also looking into the future in which these boxes serve as their own historical records. 

Thousands of RELICS boxes have been created over the years, and the work continues to evolve and adapt to each new installation site; the body of work reorganizes and reconstructs itself not unlike the spaces Hocking explores. The exhibition at Trotter&Sholer marks the first time the RELICS installation will be shown in New York, and Hocking’s first solo exhibition in New York City. Hocking, however, is no stranger to New York. His work appeared in Another Look at Detroit, exhibited by Marlborogh and Marianne Boesky Gallery in 2014. Hocking was also a 2008 nominee for the New Museum’s Altoids Award for Emerging Art in America, and he was awarded a 5-year fellowship from NYC-based Joan Mitchell Foundation in 2022.


Alongside his RELICS, Hocking’s will present photographs from his site-specifc installations and photography projects, and cast-bronze sculptures from his Citadels series (2022-2023); works exploring Hocking’s characteristic themes of transformation, ephemerality, chance, the cycles of nature, and patterns of human behavior through time. Photographic prints will feature his site-specifc Detroit projects The Egg & Michigan Central Train Station (2012), Ziggurat and Fisher Body 21 (2008) and Bone Black (2019).


“The work in this exhibition highlights my site-specifc projects over more than two decades, and my long-standing interest in creating works that utilize wasted materials and spaces,” said Scott Hocking. “I choose to recycle and transform both the objects and sites in an attempt to change or shake up a viewer’s preconceived ideas and perceptions. ”


The Reliquary Room & Other Scenes from Detroit will be on view at 168 Suffolk Street through August 10th, 2024.