In five video installations and a series of sculptures, for her first major exhibition in Paris, Rachel Rose explores states between real and artificial, and dead and alive. The artist questions what it is that makes us human and the means we seek to alter, enhance, and escape that designation in this catastrophic era. Rose persistently explores how our changing relationship to the natural and socially-impacted landscape in which we live has shaped storytelling and belief systems. Due to the epidemic of Covid-19, Lafayette Anticipations had to close Rachel Rose's exhibition on Sunday March 15th. Nevertheless, we offer you to discover the show and the artworks through a visit in pictures
The exhibition takes us on a labyrinthine journey that begins with birth and childhood, back in time, and to what lies beyond.
The exhibition begins with pre-birth time. The first works one encounters are the Borns, a recent series of sculptures that are egg shaped, alluding to reproduction. Made of glass and rocks, the Borns are essentially comprised of one material, sand, captured in two different states and times: glass is made of sand, and sand is made from pulverized rock.
Rachel Roses first video work Sitting Feeding Sleeping takes us to various sites that are connected to ideas of evolution, mortality and permanence; namely, different zoos across America, a robotics perception lab, and a cryonics lab, where dead bodies are frozen at low temperature in the hope of a future resurrection.
By intercutting between those sites, the artist examines presentday concepts of existence and compares artificial means of conserving and prolonging life to how we live today. In doing so, she recognises in each site a common limbo between being alive and dead, and an abstraction from our environment.
The video Lake Valley (2016) is a result of a collaboration with a cel animator, and utilize images from the 19th-century illustrations the artist had archived. Each frame is a composite of elements from 19th-20th century children's book illustrations cut, layered, and re-mapped for the present-day.
From various litterary sources, Rachel Rose composed a story that broaches the themes of loneliness and abandonment, two themes often encountered in the first children's tales.
Wil-o-Wisp is the first in a series of filmic works by Rose, which focus on radical economic, environmental, and spiritual upheaval. The film questions how the process of privatisation of land has transformed the relationship between individuals and their environments.
Working for the first time with a full cast and production team, Wil-o-Wisp (2018) follows the fictional Elspeth Blake, a mystic and healer, across three decades of transformation in seventeenth century agrarian England. Through a series of tableaux, we see her life unfold in a world where animism suffused the forest, and magic was real. Meanwhile, the process of enclosure the division of common land was violently reshaping the landscape into what would become modern industrialised society.
Roses most sculptural video installation to date, Autoscopic Egg, continues to explore the relationship between our environment this time understood as immediate and physical and the spirit world. The artist made a large resin egg and then electrocuted its centre, producing a frozen electric frequency visibly dividing the egg into two halves.
Projecting through the egg are two pieces of archival footage of Fred Astaire performing an identical dance routine on two separate occasions. In neurology, an autoscopic hallucination describes what is known as an extracorporeal experience where one sees ones own body projected in the peripheral vision of themselves. Autoscopic Egg refers to this by matching Astaires two different performances side by side, perfectly reflecting his movements in one anothers. Similar to a disco ball, the egg refracts light from the projector onto the wall, floor and ceiling, dispersing Astaires body into the room.
In the last installation, Everything and More (2015), Rose interviewed astronaut David Wolf about his experience of returning to earth after walking in outer space, and the new perceptions he discovered.
The artist filmed at the University of Maryland's Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory, plunging a camera into the lab's watery depths. She achieved the film's abstract, vaguely extraterrestrial shots by filming in her kitchen materials with an air compressor on liquids such as milk, oil, water, and ink.