Green on Red

Nigel Rolfe

05 Sep - 04 Oct 2008

© Nigel Rolfe
Dust In Face (2008)
Colour photograph
36 x 36in
"Dust Breeding "

05 Sep - 04 Oct 2008

While humanity was once according to Homer an object of contemplation for the Gods, it has now become a contemplation of itself. Its own alienation has reached such a degree that humanity’s own destruction become a first rate aesthetic sensation – Walter Benjamin

Green On Red Gallery presents Dust Breeding, a solo exhibition by Nigel Rolfe. The exhibition is emblematic of his previous work as he continues to investigate - through performance, video and photography - the construction of reality and the nature of truth. He employs video not only as a tool of documentation but also to investigate and test his own physical and psychological limits, using his body as a site for challenging his limitations. His artistic evolution may be understood as a desire to accommodate a modern-day fascination with the ‘society of the spectacle’.
The central piece of the exhibition is a singular projection entitled Dust Breeding. The piece, enacted in private, records the performer being enveloped by white dust. The film is slowed down to highlight this dramatic impasse which is simultaneously poetic and repugnant to the spectator. The spectacle immobilizes the viewer as he or she bares witness to the event. The analysis of this act references a variety of sources including the history of theatre, performance, video and theoretical discourse. In Theatre of Cruelty, Antonin Artaud spoke of cruelty, not in the sense of a violent act, but of the cruelty it takes for actors to strip away completely their masks and show an audience a truth that they do not wish to see - an exposure to vulnerability. The transformation of the performer from passivity to the point of struggle is a poignant metaphor for human limitations. The title of the piece further refers to a collaboration between Man Ray and Marcel Duchamp, for which Man Ray photographed a culmination of dust over the period of a year on the sculpture Bare Naked Lady. The dust documents the passage of time and recalls our mortality.
The staging of the photographic triptych entitled The Fall captures that moment before a fall. The artist is suspended in that moment. The dust begins to rise and to surround Rolfe before impact. In a text entitled Dust Breeding, Jean Baudrillard states that “our reality has become experimental. Without destiny, modern man is left with an endless experimentation of himself.” The artist’s practice is indicative of this pursuit. Rolfe is interested in the relationship between art and life; between performance and photography; and the difference between the art object and documentation of an action. His performances and actions are well documented and presented as finished films or photographic works. While conceptual in practice, they are nonetheless visually sophisticated.

Tags: Antonin Artaud, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Nigel Rolfe