Rachel Granofsky is a trickster. I walk into the headquarters of POP Montreal, to find a lively (unlike most gallery spaces) atmosphere, beyond which there are two rooms displaying her work. It has been very long since I was taken off guard by a methodology and could almost hear the ghost of McLuhan (“pssst, medium is the message… meeedium…”) snickering at the site of inverted expectation.
The illusion of digital art persists for a long moment before details reveal that the digital is precisely the tactic Granofsky has avoided. The series features photographed sculptural installations, and the digital replication in real time is amplified by precision.
Ghost Sex and Pizza Sex are full of clever angles and color theory based interceptions that deceive a glance. I practically have to press my nose against the surface to deduce that objects in the fore are painted to match lines on the back-and-mid-ground. The depth of shadow is minimized through color gradation. A systematic pattern of lines further flattening the image is the result of exactingly colored and applied tape strips.
I consult with my inner McLuhan: We’ve been folded and fooled into irony. Does the expectation of the digital or this representation of the digified a clue to a collective mind set, or a step into the mind of a wise crack, if so, has it not forged a separate and un-categorized byproduct? Is it neither pigment nor lens but the joke that is the message? In terms of content, Ghost Sex suggests a figure on fours with a mop for hair. A ghostly pair of pants and male silhouette presses luridly against this figure. The event is evident but hard to detect. Translucency of this act, the inclusion of cleaning products in the physical make up of the figures, the absence of facial features and identity – these elements lead to troubling deductions.
Yes, I have looked at something honest and gruesome and playful. Pizza Sex features a male body invading what seems to be a typified space of an innocent birthday party. An ashtray and condom drift on a pink curtain as he feeds himself a faux pizza slice.
Hourglass is a morbid play on the antiquated still-life tradition. I was uncertain if there was not a transparent digital overlay, but the trickster captivates. Thick bones on a pedestal are painted turquoise and white, the background and foreground blend perfectly. The shape of a white hourglass jumps out. A closer look reveals that Granofsky is relying on raw material, logic and magic to portray a simultaneous portrait of – could it be – our digitized minds? Perhaps the trends we are folded within? Could the digital be a phase just as potent as the once prevalent imagery of fruit in classical art history? Who and where is Rachel Granofsky?
The carefully crafted sets are pragmatically orchestrated, their content notable. Take the creation dubbed B.Anal. I see domestic acumen, an ironing board and drifting crisp white shirts next to a toilet bowl overflowing with convincingly fecal-like matter. Again, a tape pattern placed consistently throughout is used to flatten the quality of the image. I peer at the presumed pile of shit to make absolutely sure that the tape is pressed into its surface, which, as it turns out, it is. (You got me again Granofsky!) Parallel to this pile lays the laundry. Once conflated, the acts of hygiene and the pure dirt our physicality entails are difficult to reconcile.
There is no doubt that a longer pondering of trickster Granofsky’s series would reveal more cheeky agility. I left planning to return.
Rachel Granofsky’s work shows at POP Quarters throughout POP Montreal.