Saturday, September 26, 2009

Rachel Cook Explains "Now that I'm by Myself," she says, "I'n not by myself, which is good."

Artist, curator and writer Rachel Cook returns to her old stomping ground at DiverseWorks with her first show in the main gallery, quite cryptically titled "Now that I'm by myself,” she says, “I'm not by myself, which is good, which features video, photography, sculptural cutouts and drawings in works by Brian Bress, Wynne Greenwood, Laurel Nakadate and Yuki Okumura. Cook reveals a bit about the title and more below.

29-95: How did the show come together?

Rachel Cook: It started with the work I was making myself. I have been using video and self portraiture in my work for quite some time, and all of these artists use themselves in their work. So this show is more personal and closer to home artistically.

29-95: What does the title, Now that I'm by myself,” she says, “I'm not by myself, which is good,” mean?

RC: I had the title before I knew who was going to be in the show. It's a long winded story. It's a quote from a musician in an interview talking about going out on your own. When you do go out on your own you find other people. So you are alone and not alone. I have always been in that space working with people and working alone, a lot of artists deal with that situation of being isolated in their studios.

29-95: You have a long history with DiverseWorks, right?

RC: I used to work there, and I curated two other projects for the smaller gallery which doesn't exist any more, and one 12 minutes Max.

29-95: Is this the largest scale show you have curated?

RC: No, but its my first in the main gallery, and the first with two site-specific commissions. I wanted to be able to have first-hand contact with the artists. It's like making a dinner party.

29-95: Lets talk about Wynne Greenwood's work since its right in front of us. What are we looking at?

RC: It's a single projection on a monitor and a sculptural cardboard cutout. Even though she is not performing in this particular show, there is a performative quality in her installation. For years she dealt with a pain in her lower back, so she is speaking to that pain and thinking about what's underneath that anxious gut. We also commissioned a new piece for the show called Warfare Over Forever.

29-95: What drew you to her work?

RC: There's this innocence, but at the same time, a really straightforward quality. She really started out as a musician and just fell into making work. I like that she is aware and unaware at the same. She doesn't get super bogged down in making work.

29-95: How did Brian Bress come on your radar?

RC: He has a youtube channel so his work was circulating for quite a while. He grew up working at his family's thrift store surrounded by all these props. His work collapses painting, sculpture and video in that he has made everything you see in his videos. So his work can exist as sculptures and backdrops of his videos.

29-95: Yuki Okumura is the one international artist in the show. How does he fit in?

RC: He has a sense of humor with his body and the way in which he references pop culture. He will be making a site specific video in the gallery, which is very exciting.

29-95: Laurel Nakadate, the only Texas native in the flock, is most known for her films where she asks lonely older men to come home with her and then films them. Sounds confrontive.

RC: Yes, definitely. But her subjects are not forced into the experience, but invited into it. She is totally interested in the border between discomfort and awkwardness. There's something in those moments that we love and make us cringe at the same time.

29-95: Is there something about that feeling in each of these artist's work?

RC: Yes, but they all do it differently.

DiverseWorks presents “Now that I'm by myself,” she says,“I'm not by myself, which is good,” curated by Rachel Cook. It runs through October 24.

Reprinted from 29-95.c0m.