Rachel Foullon – Ruminant Recombinant

I thought briefly of Ed Kienholz, and of the way he used materials relating to the human experience to represent humans. Kienholz used old stuff – familiar and full of nostalgia – to suggest that I, or any person, could insert themselves into his narratives. Old to Kienholz, working forty years ago, coincides with the agrarian time in our country that Rachel Foullon currently mines to other ends. While Ed Keinholz was making work about the human condition, I think Foullon is focusing on the condition of art.

The show is full. Clusters (as the sculptures are called) hang from two rows of silver stained cedar cleats, these sculptures are made of dyed pieces of fabric, engine belts, electric cords, clothing and other things one might find in an old tool or garden shed. They look vaguely human, and although the titles make no reference to personhood, several of them have human-seeming parts – gloves for hands (in a whimsical touch), stuffed sacks that suggest various private parts, and so on. The colors are lovely, differing shades of earth tones are sparked with Cerulean blue, chartreuse, goldenrod, several shades of pink and the silver of the cedar supports; everything looks dusty and old – not dirty, but born of the earth – and this is nice; the dye feels very flat, and little light is reflected, the effect is of a retail shop of folksy luxe clothing and accessories. There are also farm tools made precious by polishing, these hang fetish-like on a third wall, and they also would feel at home in another sort of retail establishment.

When I visited, a large cluster was missing from the show and had traveled, I am told, to an art fair.

Parts of these sculptures have been reclaimed from a previous body of work, and to underline, or mirror, this reuse of the artist’s own work a text has been written by Aram Moshayedi using words and phrases taken from a text written for that earlier show by Michael Ned Holte. I laughed – it’s funny to mix up words and sentences, and sense is almost made.

The notion of referring to the history of one’s actions by using the product of those actions is interesting, and it brings the history of that object into the present world. An ‘existing sculptural component’ from 2009 provides a window into the past, and it certainly encouraged me to think of the artist’s hands working then and working now.

But, the references that I picked up were largely to Foullon’s own practice, and to the art world. I find in the press release that the found objects were “gutted from an old cow barn in Upstate New York previously owned by another artist,” and I am not sure what to do with this information. Is it important that the stuff was owned by another artist? Foullon’s materials, and her press release, indicate an interest in history and farming and labor – but this implies people and sweat and struggle with the elements, while the installation, like the language used in the text and in the press release, feels bloodless, and the struggle I sense is to maintain credibility with the received wisdom of contemporary art.

Images at ltd los angeles: http://www.ltdlosangeles.com/index.html

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