Rachel Libeskind “Athenian Salt”

signs and symbols

poster for Rachel Libeskind “Athenian Salt”

This event has ended.

“Show me your image in some antique book,
Since mind at first in character was done,
That I might see what the old world could say
To this composed wonder of your frame;”
– excerpt from Shakespeare Sonnet No. 59 (~1609)

signs and symbols presents Athenian Salt, a solo exhibition by Rachel Libeskind. Athenian Salt is the artist’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition presents Libeskind’s new series of collages — anti-conceptual demontages of ineffable elements, appropriating art historical imagery along with images of women sourced from Playboy magazine. Libeskind’s exhibition will be accompanied by an edition of 35 artist printed tabloids, each uniquely individualized with a silkscreen of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 59 and a unique overlay drawing by the artist.

Athenian Salt is a literary reference denoting a refined wit. The wit comes into play in Libeskind’s visual language as opposed to a conceptual one — the works are visually tongue in cheek. Libeskind notes, “I like to think of the works as demontage, instead of the traditional assemblage, since they are in process closer to a de-construction.” This new series of works was made in quarantine — during an adaptive and obsessive process in which the artist collected images of faces, body parts, historical time periods — sorting these collections of images into piles, throngs of eyes and brows on the walls of the studio. The process of making — sorting, scanning, photographing, inverting, enlarging, cutting, pasting, taping… these individual elements are no longer easily understood as they once were in their original contexts. What has emerged is a continual seduction of the way in which flesh — flushed cheeks — eyes — facial structures are rendered. The visual rhyming within these different art historical periods (classical, baroque, late-20th century soft core pornography) is at the heart of the refined wit these works present, yet Sonnet 59 further points our attention to the speculation that originality is impossible. Libeskind’s wit deals with this impossibility; the wonder of the human frame remains as beautiful or hideous — no matter when it is rendered. What came before comes again and again — regardless of its form. Libeskind’s process of demontage is itself an exploration of originality — in her own work and in that which came before.

“Rachel Libeskind’s new series turns her artist’s gaze to the history of ideals of human form, whether rendered in marble, stone or soft core 1970s porn. Athenian Salt continues Libeskind’s obsessive engagement with the past and present; the revolution in this body of work reflects the groundswell engagement with human rights that is endemic to the artist’s era. Where second-wave feminist artists reclaimed their sexuality and governance over their bodies, Libeskind reaches further: she repossesses the faces and bodies of nameless figures captured in ancient stone or late 20th century Playboy photography, juxtaposing them to create in each image a postmodern rebus to be unpicked and deciphered by the viewer. Libeskind’s new work is a sophisticated challenge to our understanding of words and images. Created in COVID lockdown, Athenian Salt renders this state of ‘beyond words’ that all of us seem to exist in during the 2020 pandemic. How clever of Libeskind to virtually abandon language and substitute the human body, the vessels in which we all inhabit, which have been so irretrievably reexamined during this year of human devastation.” — Kathy Battista

rachel libeskind is a multi-disciplinary artist, often merging her installations and performances with her studio practice. Born in Milan and raised in Berlin, Libeskind is now based between New York and Germany. She holds a B.A. with honors from Harvard University. An artist who is constantly pushing the boundaries of available mediums Libeskind draws inspiration from themes both personal and public, creating a body of work that intelligently marries historical and contemporary notions of identity, gender, re-appropriation and reproduction, creating a situation where social commentary and materiality go side by side. Libeskind has presented solo exhibitions, installations and performances at Center for Jewish History, New York; Watermill Center, Long Island; Pioneer Works, Brooklyn; Bombay Beach Biennale; and Mana Contemporary, Miami. She has also been included in group exhibitions at institutions such as ZKM Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe; Alabama Contemporary Art Center, Mobile; Carpenter Center at Harvard University, Cambridge; and National Media Arts Festival of Lithuania, Vilnius. She has been awarded residencies and fellowships at Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, Kaneohe; The Watermill Center, Long Island; Long Road Projects, Jacksonville; and The Scuola di Grafica, Venice, Italy.



from September 09, 2020 to October 18, 2020

Opening Reception on 2020-09-09 from 12:00 to 18:00

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