New York-based artist Rachel Harrison is presenting a multifaceted exhibition at Los Angeles’s Regen Projects this month, exploring notions of representation, perspective and time as they function in both the context of the gallery and in the artist’s own work. Titled Three Young Framers, the exhibition’s tacit reference to the photography of August Sander points to this notion of the subject as a participant in the act of photography, echoed today in an era of widely proliferating photographic technology.
The exhibition is centered on a series of recent sculptures Harrison has adorned with the increasingly ubiquitous “selfie stick,” adding a sudden flash of consumer tech to the high art context of her work. This minimal inflection makes for a striking effect in the work, walling off the rugged surfaces of each piece from the others, and, to a certain degree, the viewer. In each work’s self-directed gaze, the photographer is implied as the work itself. It’s an ominous note, one that seems to confer a certain agency to the piece as responsible for its own presentation, much in the same way that selfie-flashing museum-goers seem increasingly interested in their own position within the context of a museum. That the exhibition press release would expressly mention the cultural locales where the selfie stick has been banned further underscores this cultural disconnect, pitting the institutions’ unstated emphasis reflection and meditation on events outside the viewer against this notion of personal identification and presentation.
The exhibition also features a reprise of the artist’s Marilyn with Wall, a work that poses a photo of Marilyn Monroe against a stack of discarded wall fragments, torn from the gallery between installations. Echoing Harrison’s installation of gallery-spanning metal studs across the walls and floors of the space (itself a tribute to the late Michael Asher), the work feels trapped in a temporary space between exhibitions, a slickly-executed nod towards institutional critique that seems to work more in service of her broader cultural interests than a straightforward architectural deconstruction. For Harrison, the gallery or museum as an institution serves as a space of confrontation, not only of historical threads in art history, but perhaps more interestingly, the cultural framing that shapes the divide between cultural epochs, and how these contrasts ultimately resolve themselves, or in some cases, aggravate their difference.
Three Young Framers is on view through July 18th.
— D. Creahan
Rachel Harrison: Three Young Framers [Regen Projects]