RACHEL GARRARD & FILIPE CORTEZ
Curated by The Dept. of Signs and Symbols
June 6 – June 7, 2015, noon – 7pm
NEWD Art Show – The 1896

The Dept. of Signs and Symbols is pleased to announce their participation in the NEWD Art Show 2015, presenting a two person curated booth of works by artists Rachel Garrard and Filipe Cortez. With these works, both artists investigate the material and spiritual process of transformation in their respective endeavors to capture the residue.

Garrard presents 6 works from her new series of paintings, Residual, in which she uses fire to paint directly onto the canvas. Progressively expanded triangles are taped out onto raw canvas. As the triangles grow, more of the canvas is exposed to the flame, which burns the canvas and fills it with clouds of smoke, a residue of its movement. Garrard is interested in the alchemical act of transformation. Her works exhibit traces of fire and smoke – materials reminiscent of the alchemical process. These works exhibit and are guided by Garrard’s interest in the Sufi tradition, where a fire burns away the false or egotistical self from a person, leaving behind only the true self. Thus these works embody the alchemical process of that spiritual cleansing, with Garrard exploring the visual expression of the residue, of what remains.

Cortez presents a set of works from his Skin Series, works that consist of a latex membrane ripped from the wall of a decaying building. These skins bear the traces of all the aging and degradation of the architectural body they were torn from. The cracks, holes, and marks are now part of these skins, which are now separate entities from that which they are records of. As such, they are the residues of past lives, recalling the passage of time, transition, and decay. With these works, Cortez creates visual allegories for lived experience – of history, place, memory and the body.

In addition to the works on display, both artists will perform site-specific works at NEWD. Garrard will conduct her performance of Interrelated Echoes, a durational performance in which she lies in a fetal position within a vessel, a temporary structure seemingly housing the physical body as the body temporarily houses the soul—literally transforming herself into a living sculpture. When the artist is no longer present, the sculpture embodies her residual form, questioning the presence left in absence through symbolic form. Cortez will perform a site-specific intervention in which he will partially cast sections of a wall in latex, enlightening his artistic process to the public.

Garrard and Cortez approach the process of transformation through different albeit similar routes. They both are interested in the body and its relation to time and space, and in the alchemical process of separation, where a material or entity is separated from another, leaving traces behind. Garrard utilizes a controlled burn to separate the selves, while Cortez tears a layer from another. What remains are distinct entities and residues in the same body: the visual expression of a process.

Rachel Garrard was born in 1984 in Devon, England, and currently lives and works in New York. While completing her graduate studies at Central Saint Martins in 2009, she gained recognition for performance-based refracted-video works such as Circuition (2009), and Seven Transmutations (2010). Garrard was awarded artist residencies at the Atacama Telescope Farm in Chile in 2011, and the Center for the Holographic Arts at Ohio State University in 2012. Her recent work, which has grown to encompass video, performance, drawing, sculpture, painting and printmaking, has been exhibited nationally in group exhibitions at venues such as Participant Inc., New York, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center, New York, Jack Hanley Gallery, New York, Shoshona Wayne Gallery, Los Angeles, the National Academy Museum, New York, and Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert Gallery, New York. Garrard works has also been exhibited internationally in London, Berlin and St Petersburg, and has been the subject of curated solo exhibitions in both New York and Miami.

Filipe Cortez' multidisciplinary practice (site specific interventions involving performance, painting, drawing, sculpture and installation) examines memory, time and decay. The Portuguese artist investigates physical decay relating to the human body and architecture and the connections between both through in-situ performances. Through an intensive examination conducted with microscopic intention, Cortez succeeds in extracting an aesthetic of beauty from degradation, decomposition and physical disease through phenomena such as age marks, cracks, mold or humidity. As the human body ages, so do the spaces that it inhabits as evidenced by multifold manifestations of the passing of time. Cortez has shown his work in several collective exhibitions mainly in Portugal and most recently at the Peach Gallery, Toronto, Canada.

The Dept. functions as a laboratory for innovative experimentation and expression. The curatorial program serves to nourish emerging artists, to discourage the ordinary and to incite the unexpected. Focused on interaction and visible process, the project space allows for critical exposure for the artists, as well as a fostering of curatorial voices and collaboration. Through this crossing of art and life, a constellation of people, ideas, backgrounds, aspirations and intentions form. The Dept. is multifunctional, taking on the role of residency, studio, gallery, and meeting place. Following the residency model, the Dept. provides artists a haven to create their work on site. The period of concentration offers a fully immersive experience leading to the production of visionary and experimental work. The artist, invited to collaborate on an exhibition, receives the resources and support of a studio prior to and during their show, giving them a space they can call their own within a city where space is a coveted resource. Open to the public and based within the distinctive neighborhood of Vinegar Hill, The Dept. opened its door to the public in March 2015, with its inaugural exhibition presenting the work of Brooklyn-based artist Daniel Horowitz.