Coming off a show in Berlin at Neumeister Bar-Am Gallery last month and currently preparing for her second solo exhibition this year in Glasgow showcasing interesting sculptural-cum-photographic work, artist Rachel de Joode took some time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions pertaining to her practice, life outside of the hustle and bustle of the art-world, and what she has planned for the future in terms of exhibitions and life goals.
Where are you located?
Rachel de Joode:
In an easyjet airbus above the Netherlands (flying from Berlin to Glasgow).
Interesting! Glad you have the time to chat. I noticed you are planning on having a solo show in Glasgow soon at SWG3 Gallery following your recent exhibition at Neumeister Bar-Am Gallery in Berlin and Higher Pictures in New York. First of all, congratulations and it must have been back breaking having these exhibitions concurrently like that. How did these exhibitions pan out for you? Did you approach these exhibitions differently from one another as far as what you wanted to showcase/practice aesthetically?
I actually had and have even more things on my plate. Besides the ones you mentioned: In two weeks I will have another solo show, opening at Museo Apparente, a gallery in Napoli. Plus, in May I'm a group show at Elaine Levy Gallery in Brussels (with Alisa Baremboym, Bea Fremderman, Valerian Goalec, Sean Raspet, Hugo Scibetta).
In January-March I was in the group-show Surface Poetry at Boetzelaar Nispen Gallery in Amsterdam (together with Ida Lehtonen and Katharina Fengler).
All shows worked out great and are looking good! Even though, it has been a bit effortful to manage everything smoothly, time-wise, but also because (actually, earlier then planned) I moved back from New York to Berlin, where I haven't really lived in almost 2 years.
In The New Beauty Of Our Modern Life, the group-show at Higher Pictures, I showed the work Tears: I traced my dripping tears turning them into photorealist sculptural objects. In Amsterdam, I showed the work Reclining Wet Clay on Greek Marble and Folded Skins and Relief. In my solo show The Molten Inner Core, I show 5 different groups of mainly photo-sculptural works. The works for my show at SWG3 Gallery in Glasgow are still in the making but will be photo-sculptural as well.
Considering a common denominator I guess all these 'newer' works contain elements that evolve around the art-making process and me-the-artist (often my skin, my body) making artwork. Here, I mean artwork which is presented in a contemporary gallery and then eventually ending up as a jpeg circulating the Internet. Reoccurring elements are: the actors involved in the art-making process and the (reduced) signifiers of artwork/sculpture and gallery, such as: wet clay, marble or the thing pedestals.
And, in for example: Sculpted Human Skin In Rock, Tears or Reclining Wet Clay On Greek Marble I've played with volume and flatness; the In-real-life-ness of the white cube and its web-based installation-documentation. As a red thread, I work a lot with issues like 2-dimensionality versus 3-dimensionality, with proportions with the performativity of the artwork-in-itself, with surfaces.
Aesthetically, I guess there's lots of skin-tones (often my skin - 'the thing me') , grays (as in gallery floor), whites (white cube) involved.
What is there to expect from the SWG3 Gallery show this summer? How did you land the show?
The show in Glasgow is actually a follow up on a project I started last winter/spring: during the months of March and April 2013, I have had the pleasure to be an artist in residence at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and receive funding of the Deutsche Börse to work on a project concerning minerals.
During this period I did research at the Mineralogic Collection of the Senckenberg institute, one of the largest mineral collections of Europe.
This residency resulted in a series of small (hand-size) sculptures. Here, I was drawing upon object-orientated ontology; in short, the idea that the role of non-humans should be considered equal to humans. In this way, human intentionality is no longer decisive when it comes to determine who has the determinant role in a human-object relationship.
I debated the material agency of the mineral and its relation to me/my body. These sculptures were an attempt of mine to be mineral-like, applying a reversed anthropomorphism. Through this reversed anthropomorphism my aim was to provoke a stream of thought that puts the human body, ‘the thing human’ on the same plane as the mineral body, ‘the thing mineral’.
These mineral-sculptures have been made with a wide range of materials that I made or gathered such as: photographs of sculptural materials, earthy matter and body parts, plaster, clay, printed fabric, latex, pigment, paint and found objects.
I photographed these small sculptures and in Glasgow I will work with the photographs of these small sculptures. These photographs will be shown larger-then-life and photo-sculptural. I am working on the production at the moment, so I don't want to be very specific.
What is your process when coming up with a design for your work?
I find the word design a bit deceiving, I don't design my work, not really, I wouldn't phrase it like that.
But, when it comes to the process of thinking about / creating a piece of art, then, I would say at the core of it; ideas are coming from within.
It's a matter of curating those ideas that come from within. There are many and not every idea is great.
These ideas that come, are abstract thoughts or visions, I write or draw them down and sometimes a kind of snowball effect of more thoughts/ideas about the idea will arise, and then, after sometimes a few days, or, sometimes a few weeks the real idea is shaped and ready to get physical. Then a whole new process starts, cause an idea is different then the thing itself, the idea never really wants to turn into the physical like planned, so, then you need to improvise and shape and shift and re-work the idea again until “thing” and “idea” are one, in a harmonious way.
In-between there is inspiration in form of research, which can be theory or history or science or art; whatever helps this snowball effect.
Your statement about the idea being different than the thing itself quite fascinating. There is almost a situational aspect to developing an idea from the thing in itself to a final realized conclusion, however you may develop it. What situations then do you find best for the development of ideas? When you’re planning on a show in New York vs. Berlin for example do you take into account the geography of the audience in choosing what work to exhibit?
I never really think about the geography. But, I think the considerations are often simply very practical: can it be shipped easily? (is there a budget for shipping? or production-budget in general), the size of the gallery, also the 'look' of the gallery, the ideas the curator has, the other artists involved (if any). Those are things that make me (or together with the curator) decide upon a work, either something to-be-made specifically for a show or an existing work.
To follow up on your question 'What situations then do you find best for the development of ideas?' - I guess I take the practicalities as mentioned above into account and then think about something I would like to make or show. This can be an issue I want to address, something that is on my mind and needs to get out, or just mere esthetics, as in something I would like to see myself if I would be a visitor in a gallery.
I guess a combination of these factors then leads to the whole idea-then-making snowball effect.
Are you more influenced by traditional image-making as in paintings/illustrations/photography or sculpture? Do you see a difference in the practices?
I can be as much influenced by a two dimensional image as by a 3-dimensional work or a performance work or conceptual work or an image of a 3-dimensional work or a digital image of a sculpture/painting/drawing…
I like to think of all media being equal. I shift back and forth between image and object, irl and web-related / digital. I believe that as an artist, and as a human being, one of the most intriguing things of our times is learning how to cope with the ways that technological progression (and its rapid pace) are changing the way we perceive our world and it's matter; it's things and ourselves.
What did you have to eat and drink today?
I am almost 7 months pregnant, so, A LOT: fresh home/self-made orange/mango smoothie, 2 slices of bread with 1) heidelbeeren marmalade and 1) goat cheese, then a Laugenstange as a snack and for lunch a small Kürbisbrötchen with goat cheese and cucumber (which my husband made for me to eat at the airport:), and now another snack: just bought a coffee and a double chocolate muffin and sparkling water throughout the day.
You are expecting? Congratulations! Any baby names floating around that you’re fond of? I would class you as a celebrity in your own right and I’m sure you’re aware how exciting some celebrity baby names tend to be sometimes.
I can't tell you any names because we haven't decided 100% yet! But, I can tell you that it's a boy!
Where do you see the future of your work/self? Future goals?
More of everything! Expanding! I hope I can expand in various ways, expand my studio (having more space and more financial recourses), expand my creativity, my knowledge, expand my freedom. I would like to travel more to strange, exotic, foreign places and see artists work and make work abroad, I am always inspired when I am a foreigner somewhere and I love perceiving the world foreign.
I like big budgets to produce work, I hope to see more of those in the future. I would like more stability and at the same time more freedom to create. I think having more time to produce would be amazing as well.
You found yourself in Mexico City, Mexico last year, I believe, making work and engaging in various projects. Can you share with us your thoughts on stay in Mexico? How long did it last? What did you do?
I was there between 2011 and 2013 on-and-off, each time around 3-5 months. I think it was amazing, nice sunny, exciting, different, weird, great food, all the clichés, but in a good way, I enjoyed myself. I think living there longer would be a bit limiting, but overall Mexico has a special place in my heart.
Finally you seem to keep close contact with artist Kate Steciw whom you shared the stay in Mexico with, tell us about your collaborative relationship with the talented Kate Steciw.
I asked Kate to auction a piece of hers in the auction house 'De Joode & Kamutzki' that I was operating (together with Maria Kamutzki) between 2010 and 2013. Since then we got to be close friends. I am an admirer of her work and it's always inspiring to work with her.
We started collaborating in 2012 and have done two shows; we're working on the third show at the moment (during gallery weekend Berlin).