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Cracow: ‘From the sublime to the ridiculous’ – exhibition
January 26, 2019 - March 31, 2019
‘FROM THE SUBLIME TO THE RIDICULOUS’
From the sublime to the ridiculous at the Bunkier Sztuki Gallery is the first solo exhibition of this young British artist who is interested in moments of disruption, chaos and failure. In 2016 Moss came under the spotlight in the British media when she got stranded in the Pacific aboard the Hanjin Geneva, a shipping container travelling from Vancouver to Shanghai where the artist had signed up for a 23-day-long residency (23 Days at Sea Container Ship Residency project with Access Gallery), after the owners of the ship, Hanjin Shipping Company, had declared bankruptcy just a week into her planned journey. It is as if this absurd story has been staged by the artist herself, as her art is reminiscent of situation comedies based on the premise of getting stuck.
In her most recent works, mainly short-form videos created in the poetic burlesque style typical of the artist, Moss comes back to the banks of the River Thames in her native Essex to critically examine heroic narratives in relation to surrounding landscape through “camera-targeted activities” that interfere with nature minimally, if at all. For these videos she often builds ridiculously complex structures out of ordinary mass-produced everyday items, e.g., toys. Aesthetically, they resemble Rube Goldberg machines or contraptions from popular DIY Challenge YouTube videos. These seemingly haphazard but in fact deliberately executed contrivances designed to perform trivially simple tasks elicit a wide range of emotions that exist between expectation and surprise, disappointment and failure.
The main heroine, or rather the anti-heroine of the videos, is usually the artist herself, who brings to mind the character from the 1910 short film Lea in convitto [Lea at Her Boarding School]. The eponymous Lea – played by Lea Giunchi, the renowned Italian comedy actress of the silent film era – loses a ball of wool she gets from her parents who want to talk her out of reading and direct her attention to knitting, which is in their opinion a more suitable activity for young women. The heroine panics and completely destroys her house searching for the ball (which is, in fact, stuck to Lea’s back), after which she gets her book back.
The slapstick scenes staged by Moss use simple and direct means of expression. They are conceptually similar to the works of Bas Jan Ader that critically examine romantic clichés. The artist’s works are a polemic against the dominant, traditionally romanticised male image as well as the legacy of British land artists such as Richard Long. The artist intentionally adopts pastiche and banality as her language of choice and uses it not only to demythologize male heroes but at the same time – not unlike Barbara Kruger – to deconstruct the patriarchy that is the cornerstone of the art world.
Rebecca Moss (born in 1991) is a British artist known for her short-form videos and absurd scenarios. She creates comic vignettes, often featuring her as the main character, for which she embeds mass-produced objects into nature landscapes. These seemingly haphazard but in fact deliberately executed contrivances designed to perform trivially simple tasks elicit a wide range of emotions that exist between expectation and surprise, disappointment and failure. Raw and random at first sight, while actually carefully planned and structured, these videos set the ridiculous and banal against the monumental and sublime. Rebecca got an MA in Sculpture from the Royal College of Art in London in 2017 and prior to that, in 2013, a BA in Painting at the Camberwell College of Arts in London. In 2017 she was nominated for the prestigious Future Generation Art Prize award (PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv). In 2016 she participated in the 23 Days at Sea Container Ship Residency project (Access Gallery, Vancouver). In 2015 she was selected to create a site-specific sculptural installation over the Bristol Channel (Somerset Art Works). As a contributing artist, she has participated, among others, in such exhibitions and shows as TBCTV (Somerset House, Frieze Week, 2018), Future Generation Art Prize 2(Palazzo Contarini Polignac, Venice Biennale, 2017), Future Generation Art Prize (PinchukArtCentre, Kyiv, 2017), Stick or Twist (Castlefield Gallery, Manchester, 2017), OTHER (Courtyard Gallery 1, London, 2016), The Tomorrow People (Elevator Gallery, London, 2014). She currently divides her time between Essex and London.