December 15, 2015

Go Into the Zone with Rachel Guardiola – 2015 Fall SOLOS Artist

Using a mix of truth and fabrications Rachel Guardiola has constructed a narrative in the Experimental Gallery on our Lower Level that invites you to investigate and explore a collection of manufactured evidence of an Other Earth.

A multimedia artist with a background in natural history, Rachel’s work examines the unknown by incorporating art, science, and human curiosity. Inspired by the discovery and historical documentation of artifacts, she plays with the notion of historical evidence by oscillating between fact and fiction.

Rachel is one of the seven artists selected to be in the 2015 Fall SOLOS, and to deepen your understanding of her work she answered a few questions for us. Read more below, and step Into the Zone (Anthology of Accounts & Findings).


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Installation view of Rachel Guardiola’s Voyage Around A Room in the Truland Gallery. Photo by Greg Staley.

What one thing do you want the audience to take away from this work?
Into the Zone (Anthology of Accounts & Findings) is activated by the viewer as they physically navigate and psychologically piece together clues that unfold a loosely based narrative. The camera lens in the film mimics the act of looking, placing the viewer in the first person of the objective observer while the artifacts around the room display a history of an Other Earth.

The search is the subject.

The search is the subject. I hope that the audience is able to experience the journey through the terrain, and at the same time playfully question the space created, as it teeters between fact and fiction.

In your studio, in life, in your head, in your practice, anywhere: what is your most important/valuable source of inspiration?

Experimentation and ongoing wonderment plays the most important role in my practice. I have always held an equal adoration for art as for the natural world. The history of scientific discovery and the technologies employed to help us understand our situation is of ongoing development.  I feel that I had to make a choice early on as art and science are usually so separate within the academic platform, however there are so many others that draw similar parallels from both disciplines. I chose art because I am inclined to create things from my interpretation of the world, and though sometimes try, am not very good at thinking in a linear manner.

With this work I am, for the first time, able to find a way to incorporate my background in natural history preservation, utilizing the means in which we construct systems of evidence, however it is subverted to create a collection of curiosities to a place that may not exist.

However, I am deeply inspired by the relationship between the empirical, the ability for science to quantify the world around us and experiential, what we perceive. It has become a belief system you could say, and finds its way into all my work in some way or another.

What inspired this body of work?/What motivated you to create this body of work?

The work is motivated by the ability of technology to extend our physical limitations. Tools have continually been reinvented to overturn myth and make sense of our situation in the cosmos, while at the same time sometimes distances us from our own futility. With this work I am, for the first time, able to find a way to incorporate my background in natural history preservation, utilizing the means in which we construct systems of evidence, however it is subverted to create a collection of curiosities to a place that may not exist.

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Installation View of Rachel’s Guardiola’s Voyage Around A Room in the Truland Gallery. Photo by Greg Staley.

 

What artist (or person) (living or deceased) has influenced you the most?

In the last two years, I was able to take a film course for the first time and happened to see San Soleil by Chris Marker. This work left a great impression. In the film, there is a point where the narrator begins to read of her friend’s accounts from a place known as the Sahel.

Having lived myself in a country located in this arid region of sub-Saharan, West Africa, I was able to decipher the way that this artist combined fact with poetic nuance to create work that shifted between documentary and fiction.

…and in that moment I was able to experience through a lens someone else’s view of the same vast landscape and objective isolation.

The film transported me back to a not too distant memory, as I watched on the screen someone seeing for the first time the same far away place that I once lived and was once new to me.  It became a shared experience. The original footage for this film was edited together from Marker’s travel logs, and in that moment I was able to experience through a lens someone else’s view of the same vast landscape and objective isolation.

If you could have lunch with any artist (living or deceased) who would it be? Why?

Geez, so many that’s hard to pick. It would have to be someone like Carl Sagan, or Isaac Newton, Jane Goodall, Koko the gorilla, or the first man on earth, but I think the first man would be hungrier than I, and I would be too nervous to eat other than with Koko who probably wouldn’t care if I made a mess, plus I heard she liked cake.

Rachel Guardiola, Specimen #2518, archival ink-jet print, 27.5" x 40", 2014
Rachel Guardiola, Specimen #2518, archival ink-jet print, 27.5″ x 40″, 2014

How does your exhibition/work fit with this particular gallery?

It is great to have the opportunity to show this work in a space that can function as a black box and white cube space. It is difficult to show work when it has so many elements, video needing a darkly lit room and photography, sculpture, and text that need lighting to be seen. I often struggle with presentation. The Experimental Gallery works really well because I am able to control the lighting, keep it dim to view the projection and at the same time have spot lighting in certain areas where needed. This is something that I think I could still work on for this piece.

How did you decide when this body of work was finished?

I am not sure if it every really will be. The film was finished in May 2015, but the taxonomy and specimens from this Other Earth can really go on continually.

What is your favorite late-night studio snack?

Ice cream, especially all flavors colored green.

When you’re stuck, what do you do to get un-stuck?

I get re-inspired, there’s so much to think about.


Rachel’s work is currently on view at AAC until Dec 20. Don’t hesitate to come and see it during our regular gallery hours: Wed-Sun, noon to 5 pm at 3550 Wilson Blvd, Arlington VA. Read more about Rachel on her website here.

Performances by Isa Leal & Liz Ensz + Skye Fort in conversation with NO GRIDS NO MASTERS

Saturday / April 20 / 6pm-8pm

An evening of performances by Isa Leal and Liz Ensz + Skye Fort in conversation with Ensz’s exhibition NO GRIDS NO MASTERS currently on view at MoCA Arlington.

Artist Talk at the Innovation Studio + Store: Chris Combs

Wednesday / April 17 / 6pm-7pm

Join us for a conversation with current Innovation Studio artist in residence Chris Combs and Blair Murphy, MoCA Arlington’s curator of exhibitions, about Combs’s new wall-sized installation The Next Big Thing.

2024 Art Classes for Kids, Teens, and Adults!

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Less than 2 weeks left to register! Sign up today to secure your spot in one of MoCA Arlington’s award-winning programs! From drawing and painting to ceramics and mixed media, you are sure to find an inspiring art class. Enrich your creative journey with our talented instructors and explore the world of art in a fun and supportive environment.

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