Free-standing sheets of clear acrylic are adorned with messy, seemingly hand-smeared gestures. Brand name water bottles are filled with flesh-colored solids and set facing walls painted designer colors. Messes of acrylic paint hold tight to films of spandex material, hung loosely against the gallery wall so as to visually manifest the grip of the paint’s hold to the expandable material.
No Core is the first monograph of Pamela Rosenkranz’s work as published by JRP|Ringier. Selecting the title No Core suggests an attempt towards a body of work where something integral is purposefully left out or missing, yet here Pamela Rosenkranz seems to find it difficult to avoid referencing the body at every turn—or at least the absence of it. The more we look at the work, it becomes apparent that the body that is missing is not that of the artist, but our own.
What does it mean to have no core? Traditionally the center of a being is closest to the principal nature of what makes the thing characteristically itself. As one moves out from this center, each layer of being that we encounter towards the outer limit becomes more superficial and more about appearance than substance.
Not to possess such a grounded or relatable center must mean the ability for an object to take on the nature of the one perceiving it. Is this not what all unguided visual experience will become anyway? When encountering a work, the less information that is provided means the more we are left to fill in for ourselves, given the visual and informational baggage that we carry with us to the viewing experience.
Maybe what Rosenkranz is saying here is that the principle or original nature of an object intending to find its way into art history depends less on the intentions of the maker and more on the perceived impact it makes through the lens of those with a greater knowledge of where things fall in relation to the artwork that came before it. No matter what the original core may be, we will eventually erase its meaning and replace the origin point of the work with whatever history will see fit.
Postmodern, Contemporary, Post-postmodern? Rosenkranz’s work posits to the fact that these labels matter very little in the end. They are merely handles for us to cling to as we wave our hands madly in the darkness, trying to contain the swirling overflow of art-historical information. Our difficulty with this experience is accelerated by the constantly evolving pull of informational technology. Rosenkranz knows this just as much as anyone. Her work is an act of release. It is a letting go of the anxiousness that has previously enveloped our need to define all that is set before us. Rosenkranz’s work simply is, and in letting go of the desire to self-describe, it is able to become a body of work overflowing with potential.
Reviewed by Matthew Hassell
No Core is available at Sequence Press.