Pamela Rosenkranz

Pure Reflections (Revolutionary Étude), 2012

media player, SmartWater bottle, sound loop, USB stick

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photo credit: Florian Kleinefenn

Artwork
Description

Pamela Rosenkranz’s work raises fundamental, and potentially troubling questions about what it means to be human in the contemporary world. Her conceptually discursive and multidisciplinary practice uses a variety of materials, the emphasis of which is on the materials’ so-called ‘naturalness’. In Rosenkranz’s view, any human product, even the PET plastic used in bottles of mineral water, is a natural material – anything, that is, that has been created by the most evolved of all the organisms in our fragile ecosystem – humans. The collapse of such distinctions between natural and artificial is a reflection of the artist’s critical exploration on the notion of a ‘human-indifferent universe.’ The term comes from a body of contemporary philosophical thought that explores the objective possibilities of non-identity, that is, identity beyond human existence and consciousness. Critical of a conception of art that relies on the artist’s subjectivity as the coda for the work, Rosenkranz is interested in moving beyond such identity-centred concerns towards the ecological crisis that defines our age. In scientific terms, we are now, according to Nobel Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen, in the Anthropocene age, a period in which humans are the dominant influence over the biological, geological and chemical processes on earth. We have thus reached a stage in human evolution where we can control nature, and the violence that this power has inflicted upon the Earth’s surface is impossible to reverse.

To this end, Rosenkranz is particularly inspired by the radical ecological writings of Iranian theorist and novelist Reza Negarestani, who contributed an essay for an exhibition of Rosenkranz’s work in Venice. Negarestani’s text is eccentric and apocalyptic, and discusses the complicity of Venice with what he terms ‘aquatic capitalism’ – a notion that is also at play in Rosenkranz’s works here. The currency of water is explicitly referenced in the Smart Water bottle – marketed as holistic and purifying, the effects of this economy have led to some of the most devastating damage to our biosphere. Further playing with the deception of light and liquid, Rosenkranz explores how advances in neuroscience challenge our understanding of identity. Through recent scientific research into the evolutionary history of the brain, we fathom that the self is not constituted as a fixed entity but as an ever-changing process – a metaphorical liquidity. She says: “Understanding our eyes as organs that have developed over very long spans of time helps us to think differently about images we see in the contemporary world. There’s no pure image streaming through our retinas, giving us access to truth. Vision is very physical and conflicted.” The coloured swathes of projected light in Pure Reflections (Revolutionary Étude) mobilise Rosenkranz’s characteristic use of transparency and abstraction to enact an understated critique of consumerism and unrestrained globalisation.

About
the artist

Pamela Rosenkranz was born in Uri, Switzerland, in 1979. She graduated at the University of Zurich in 2005, and successively she earned her MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bern in 2010. In 2012, Rosenkranz completed an Independent Residency Program at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam.

Pamela Rosenkranz deals with complex issues related to human existence and nihilism, as well as globalisation and consumerism. She works with the deception of light and liquid to translate her conceptual ideologies, which are often presented through a range of media, including video, abstract sculptures, and installations. Rosenkranz’s artworks take aim at the empty centres of history, politics and our contemporary culture as a whole. Her aesthetic is informed by her extensive research into fields ranging from marketing and medicine to philosophy and religion. She instigates complex issues using a variety of shiny surfaces such as Perspex and latex, branded water bottles, IKEA furniture and projector screens. Moreover, her dynamic and gestural use of eloquent pigments alludes formally to Yves Klein’s seminal “Anthropometries”. The artist confronts the products she uses in her works with their material reality by collapsing the synthetic appearance of the artwork into their pure meaninglessness material form.

Rosenkranz’s use of glass, plastic water bottles and liquid reflecting surfaces, present in the works featured in Open Source: Art at the Eclipse of Capitalism, stems from her interest in physicality. Indeed, she employs reflective surfaces as a way of forcing the artwork to interact with the surrounding environment, to establish itself as a physical entity. The artist’s work and research often takes a biological/medical approach. Light as a medium attracts Rosenkranz specifically in relation to the influence it has on the human body: how it dictates sleeping rhythms and influences the organism, for instance. She started engaging with water as a reflection on anorexics’ attitude towards it . Studies note that the fluid is perceived as pure, ‘immaterial’, detoxifying even, while actually every plastic bottle harbours colonies of hormones and bacteria, alongside the minerals.

Rosenkranz provides an unmediated access to the real by presenting isolated objects side-by-side the scientific conditions of their existence. These themes are explored in works such as 'Pure Reflections (Revolutionary Études)' featured in Open Source. The notion of meaninglessness in Rosenkranz’s work is explored further in the book 'Pamela Rosenkranz: No Core', written by Katya Garcia-Anton.


Pamela Rosenkranz deals with complex issues related to human existence and nihilism, as well as globalisation and consumerism. She works with the deception of light and liquid to translate her conceptual ideologies, which are often presented through a range of media, including video, abstract sculptures, and installations. Rosenkranz’s artworks take aim at the empty centres of history, politics and our contemporary culture as a whole. Rosenkranz provides an unmediated access to the real by presenting isolated objects side-by-side the scientific conditions of their existence. These themes are explored in works such as ‘Pure Reflections (Revolutionary Études)‘ featured in Open Source. The notion of meaninglessness in Rosenkranz’s work is explored further in the book ‘Pamela Rosenkranz: No Core’, written by Katya Garcia-Anton.


Pamela Rosenkranz
on Artuner

Part of the
exhibition