Experience/Presence/The Body

“And if Harrison’s sculpture is so caught up in this chaos of signs and surface effects it’s precisely because it’s so serious about space: in a time when space and image lose their distinction, and the old, ideal distance between viewer and object is always already filled up and occupied by a thousand communications, sculpture, too, finds ways of making itself multi-surfaced and schizo-temporal. In order to re-occupy our contemporary no-space, it trades in its timeless pose for a temporary one, or for a manic series of appearances.”
John Kelsey [1]
“Harrison’s work is all about display.”
Catherine Wood [2]
“Harrison’s work is all about frames, about what lies outside the frame and what goes unnoticed within in it -- about, that is, the blind spots in our everyday imagining.”
Jack Bankowsky [3]
“She prefers, as much as possible, to preserve a sense of flux, a state that is typical of her studio practice, where elements are gathered, moved around, swapped out, etc. We get the feeling that she may still be pondering her decisions...”
“...do not be fooled by this casualness.”
Elizabeth Sussman [4]

Where does work come from? Many sources. We asked Harrison to describe some vital experiences in her life. We leave you with one of them:
Through a mutual friend I met the artists Komar and Melamid and accompanied them on a trip to Thailand to teach elephants to paint. Due to the collapse of the foresting industry elephants have been left to begging on the streets of Bangkok. The Elephant Art School was developed to help them earn a living, and the paintings have been exhibited and sold in New York with the proceeds sent back to the elephants. Assisting an elephant with a brush in its mouth paint a Joan Mitchell had a profound effect on my thinking about the creative act.

[1] John Kelsey, Sculpture in an Abandoned Field in If I Did It, monograph, Zurich, Migros Museum and JRP Ringler, 2007
[2] Catherine Wood, The Stuff: Rachel Harrison's Sculpture in Afterall 11. 2005, p.36-43
[3] Jack Bankowsky, Monkey House Blessing Potpourri, in Banks, Eric, and Sarah Valdez, eds. Rachel Harrison: Museum With Walls, Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale on Hudson; Whitechapel Gallery, London; and Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, 2010, p.137.
[4] Elizabeth Sussman, exhibition review, Rachel Harrison, Artforum, November 2009.


“Thinking occurs in the act of looking. There’s a strong tendency in my work to directly reference the act of looking.''
“My work has always been an investigation of the body in space, and for that reason most of my works are on a human scale. Walking around my work is important; you can never see it in one view, and this ambulatory experience is intended to slow down the time it takes to look and thereby ‘know’ something.'' RH

Perth Amboy, 19”x26”

“I don’t think you should know what art is, or have the ability to know it the way other things are known in the world. I am not involved in predicting or dictating this experience. I am interested in the experience of art.” RH

Around the Water Cooler, "74 x 46 x 32", 2010. Photo by Brian Forrest

“Maybe I’m starting to think that artworks need to unfold slowly over time in real space to contest the instantaneous distribution and circulation of images with which we’ve become so familiar.'' RH

The Eagle Has Landed, 43"x32"x48", 2006

“I am interested in irresolution, of parts not coming together, and the place where engagement can be active not passive.'' RH

Perth Amboy (detail), scholar, scholar's rock; 2001-2009; installation view from "Consider The Lobster" Hessel Museum, Bard College

Perth Amboy (detail), found Marilyn Monroe bust in a Staples stor-all box, on dolly; 2001-2009; installation view from “Consider The Lobster” Hessel Museum, Bard College