Rachel Youdelman: A Précis
by Sir Clive Nicely, Royal Payne and New Vecks University of the Arts, Swinebirch, Diddlesex
Rachel Youdelman (°1951, Fresno, California, United States) makes conceptual artworks, photos, and media art. By investigating language on a meta-level, Youdelman seduces the viewer into a world of ongoing equilibrium and the interval that articulates the stream of daily events. Moments are depicted that only exist to punctuate the human drama, to clarify our existence and to find poetic meaning in everyday life.
Her conceptual artworks sometimes radiate a cold and latent violence. At times, disconcerting beauty emerges. The inherent visual seductiveness, along with the conciseness of the exhibitions, further complicates the reception of their manifold layers of meaning. By putting the viewer on the wrong track, she focuses on the idea of ‘public space’ and more specifically on spaces where anyone can do anything at any given moment: the non-private space, the non-privately owned space, space that is economically uninteresting.
Her works are given improper functions: significations are inversed and form and content merge. Shapes are dissociated from their original meaning, by which the system in which they normally function is exposed. Initially unambiguous meanings are shattered and disseminate endlessly. By contesting the division between the realm of memory and the realm of experience, her works references post-colonial theory as well as the avant-garde or the post-modern and the left-wing democratic movement as a form of resistance against the logic of the capitalist market system.
She creates situations in which everyday objects are altered or detached from their natural function. By applying specific combinations and certain manipulations, different functions and/or contexts are created. By referencing romanticism, grand-guignolesque black humour and symbolism, she creates work through labour-intensive processes which can be seen explicitly as a personal exorcism ritual. They are inspired by a nineteenth-century tradition of works, in which an ideal of ‘Fulfilled Absence’ was regarded as the pinnacle.
Youdelman’s works are often about contact with architecture and basic living elements. Energy (heat, light, water), space, and landscape are examined in less obvious ways and sometimes developed in absurd ways. By demonstrating the omnipresent lingering of a ‘corporate world’, she tries to create works in which the actual event still must take place or just has ended: moments evocative of atmosphere and suspense that are not part of a narrative thread. The drama unfolds elsewhere while the build-up of tension is frozen to become the memory of an event that will never take place.
Focusing on the inability of communication which is used to visualise reality, the attempt of dialogue, Youdelman’s oeuvre embodies the dissonance between form and content and the dysfunctions of language. In short, the lack of clear references are key elements in the work. With the use of appropriated materials which are borrowed from a day-to-day context, she tries to grasp language. Transformed into art, language becomes an ornament. At that moment, lots of ambiguities and indistinctnesses, which are inherent to the phenomenon, come to the surface.
Youdelman’s collected, altered and original works are being confronted as aesthetically resilient, thematically interrelated material for memory and projection. The possible seems true and the truth exists, but it has many faces, as Hanna Arendt cites from Franz Kafka. By emphasising aesthetics, she absorbs the tradition of remembrance art into daily practice. This personal follow-up and revival of a past tradition is important as an act of meditation.
Her works are often classified as part of the new romantic movement because of the desire for the local in the unfolding globalized world. However, this reference is not intentional, as this kind of art is part of the collective memory. In a search for new methods to ‘read the city’, she presents everyday objects as well as references to texts, painting and architecture. Pompous writings and Utopian constructivist designs are juxtaposed with trivial objects. Categories are subtly reversed.
Demonstrating how life extends beyond its own subjective limits, Youdelman often tells a story about the effects of global cultural interaction over the latter half of the twentieth century, challenging the binaries we continually reconstruct between Self and Other, between our own ‘cannibal’ and ‘civilized’ selves. Rachel Youdelman currently lives and works in Chelsea, MA.
BEACON HILL POETRY TOUR
A Poem by Rachel Youdelman
9 Willow Street
Sylvia Plath &Ted Hughes lived on 6th floor in 1958. They paid $115/month
76 West Cedar
W.S. Merwin lived on top floor in 1956; he paid $75/month
63 West Cedar
L.E. Sissman & Anne Klauer lived here in 1958
24 Chestnut Street
Stephen & Agathe Fasset lived here. They made recordings of many Boston
poets. Agathe was a friend of Bela Bartok & wrote his biography.
18 Chestnut Street
Robert Lowell's grandfather's house
239 Marlborough Street
Robert Lowell & Elizabeth Hardwick bought this house in 1955
270 Marlborough Street
Robert Lowell grew up in this house
"Every day we should hear at least one little song, read one good poem, see one exquisite picture, and, if possible, speak a few sensible words"--Goethe
POEM for today, July 3, 2018. Thank you, Sir Clive.
Let Ralph debate.
Leave Britney alone.
Mars needs women.
I love you, Moschino Barbie.
Let Ralph debate.
F A N T A S Y C U R A T I O N
Phase I Portraits: Gerard Brane and Florine Stettheimer
F A N T A S Y C U R A T I O N
Phase II Portraits: Alice Neel and Sylvia Sleigh