Rachel de Joode: Instead of Pieces, a Play

Craig Schwartz: [as Maxine Puppet] Tell me, Craig, why do you like puppeteering?
Craig Schwartz: [as Craig Puppet] Well Maxine, I’m not sure exactly. Perhaps the idea of becoming someone else for a little while. Being inside another skin? thinking differently, moving differently, feeling differently.
Craig Schwartz: [as Maxine Puppet] Interesting, Craig?
Excerpt from Being John Malkovich (1999), Directed Spike Jonze, Written by Charlie Kaufman

Rachel de JOODE, Instead of Pieces, a Play
Exhibition view, Rachel de JOODE Instead of Pieces, a Play

PARIS—Rachel de Joode’s work revolves around a tension between the flatness of the pixelated screen and the fleshiness of the porous body. While many of her photographs take on the appearance of human skin or organic matter, upon closer inspection the images come into focus as renderings of elemental artistic materials, such as clay or pigment, that bear the imprint of de Joode’s hands. Throughout de Joode’s work there is an oscillation between two-dimensional surface and three-dimensional corporeality. Images are embraced in the round as visceral and bodily. They inhabit the space of the haptic in which touch is experienced with the eyes.

Indeed, this sensorial confusion also extends to the artist’s approach to her medium. For de Joode, a photograph is a tool for the mediation of her physical experience with matter. It is also a way to channel the desire of the artist into the form of her materials. As such, her image-objects have agency; they become subjects. They perform as other mediums, troubling the traditional boundaries of their frames. Masquerading as sculptures, paintings, and even drapery, they are folded, layered, interlocked, and penetrated as if in defiance of the expectations provided by the gallery wall. This performance of the art object extends to the context of the exhibition itself and to de Joode’s role as its artist-protagonist.

At the center of the exhibition is a stage set of a gallery. Within this gallery-within-a-gallery a static play unfolds in which performers, dressed in the artist’s uniform of jeans, white t-shirt, blonde bob, and glasses, help support the objects on display. Arms reach through holes in the stage flats to support photo paintings and small glazed figurines of the artist in the nude. Foregrounding this cast of objects, the human actors portraying the artist become the support system for the artworks, their hands serving as hooks and pedestals in an act that is both humorous and achingly melancholic. Meanwhile, de Joode’s own hands literally permeate the works both through their representation and their trace — these are, after all, things that have been made.

— Alex Klein

Alex Klein is the Dorothy and Stephen R. Weber (CHE’60) Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania. Recent exhibitions at ICA include Suki Seokyeong Kang: Black Mat Oriole (2018) co-curated with Kate Kraczon; Broadcasting: EAI at ICA (2018) co-organized with Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI); Nathalie Du Pasquier’s first museum survey BIG OBJECTS NOT ALWAYS SILENT (2017) co-organized with the Kunsthalle Vienna; Myths of the Marble (2017) co-organized with the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Norway; Barbara Kasten: Stages (2015), the first major survey of the artist’s work, and Julia Feyrer and Tamara Henderson: Consider the Belvedere (2015).

From 2013 to 2015 she served as an agent in the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Hillman Photography Initiative where she co-curated the exhibition Antoine Catala: Distant Feel (2015, with Tina Kukielski) and co-edited the publication Shannon Ebner: Auto Body Collision (CMOA, 2015). She has lectured widely and her writing has been published in numerous collections, including Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (MIT Press, 2016), The Human Snapshot (Sternberg Press/ CCS Bard, 2013), How Soon Is Now?  (LUMA, 2012), and the critical volume on photography Words Without Pictures (LACMA/Aperture, 2010), which she also edited.

Before joining the ICA in 2011 she held positions in the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In addition to her curatorial work, she is an exhibiting artist and the co-founder, with designer Mark Owens, of the editorial project and publishing imprint Oslo Editions.

17.05.2018 – 16.06.2018
Main space, Galerie Christophe Gaillard

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