Talking to Rachel LaBine

Question: Tell me about “One day Porcupine returned from there, fabulously rich.”

“Porcupine” was part of a body of paintings last year that took science fiction films as their starting points. I had been thinking about the notion of the uncanny and how that was used in scifi film; how, for example, fabricated projections into the future were used to talk about the reality in which a certain film had been produced. More specifically, I was interested in the visual articulation of those relationships in the films, how abstraction was employed to a disconcerting effect and how that correlated to abstraction in painting. “One day Porcupine returned from there, fabulously rich” is a line from Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Stalker”.

Question: Tell me about “Mark Zuckerberg Presents: Build Your Own Totem”

Mark Zuckerberg Presents: Build Your Own Totem, a collaboration with artist Lee Johnson for a show called “Totemic”. We built the installation together and then performed during the two-hour opening for the show. Lee recently sent me some eloquent writing that he did on that piece – here is an excerpt:

Lee Johnson and Rachel LaBine’s installation Mark Zuckerberg Presents: build your own totem began with a completely white world constructed from a mash up of unrecognizable materials, objects from our daily lives such as televisions, toasters, and vacuum cleaners and layers of electronic digital video and projection.  During the performance, done within the installation for one night only, Johnson and LaBine dressed in skintight white jump suits and became genderless and nearly indistinguishable from one another. The characters within the surreal space were detached from physical interaction and communication.  Paint, slowly dripping from buckets on the centralized column of cultural detritus, actively changed the reality into a hot, colorful mess before the viewer’s eyes.  Communicating only through an online computer, Abigail Blank [Goddess Gemstonez], a fictitious shared identity on Facebook created for the performance, allowed for inquiries or friend requests by the audience via a nearby computer, all of which was projected onto the rear wall of the installation.  Out of the Facebook communication between Abigail Blank and the audience arose questions regarding identity, social norms, intercommunication and the pervasive nature of technology within American culture…Packed with digital technology to reflect the maximalist overstimulation of mass media, Johnson and LaBine’s Mark Zuckerberg Presents: build your own totem neurotically explored boundaries between physical and digital, truth and lie, presence and absence, and the construction of our identities.(…) The works explore the plural nature of reality through immersive environments and viewer interactions.  This pairing reflects a sense of the global culture’s growing interest in controlling and exploring our individual personalities in a progressively expanding world of digital communication.’

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2 thoughts on “Talking to Rachel LaBine

  1. […] Art Czar recently published a piece on Brooklyn-based artist Rachel LaBine that includes a collaboration between Rachel and myself done last December.  Check it out here: […]

  2. MuseumNerd says:

    Rachel’s current work at Storefront is great.

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