Rachel Stern “This Terrestrial Paradise”

Ortega y Gasset Projects @ The Old American Can Factory

poster for Rachel Stern “This Terrestrial Paradise”

This event has ended.

Ortega y Gasset Projects presents the opening of This Terrestrial Paradise, a solo exhibition of new work by Open Call 2020 Skirt Space recipient, Rachel Stern.

Voltaire concludes the interminable philosophical debate within Candide, or Optimism by simply suggesting, “let us cultivate our garden.” After the tumult and chaos of Candide’s journey and the unsettling predicament of optimism versus pessimism, there could be no more comfortable place to land than the notion of simply getting to work. As we find ourselves simultaneously isolated away from our work and communities and united in the work of uplifting and defending black lives, this notion of steady proactivity is grounding. This Terrestrial Paradise is a photo-based installation which takes the form of an imagined epilogue to Voltaire’s story. Avoiding the peaks and pitfalls that comprise Candide’s journey, this body of work exists in the pragmatic space of the bitter-sweet. Through photographs and sculpture the fruits as well as the fallow grounds of the conceptual garden space we are left to cultivate at the end of Candide’s journey assume allegorical form looking unflinchingly at a broad moral landscape.

Stern’s work de-canonizes and reframes the tropes of our expanded visual culture through a critical, kitsch, queer-washed lens. She questions authenticity—what is the difference between real and fake, what are the class, cultural, and gendered implications of those distinctions? Using kitsch and mass produced materials, Stern creates strange lush worlds spilling out of the photograph’s frames into encompassing environments adorned with wallpaper and sculpture. Suspended in the limbo of the studio where constructions and critical reflections are synthesized, her photographic installations illustrate an emotional response to existing within this continuous moment of exquisite and tragic chaos.



from September 12, 2020 to November 22, 2020


Rachel Stern

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