Fan Mail

Fan Mail: Rachel Granofsky

Rachel Granofsky’s approach to photography is akin to puzzle making, a balancing act between meticulously connecting individual parts while holding an unwavering attention to the whole. She creates her photographs at her Bushwick studio, which is set up as a miniature stage for building life-size installations. Granofsky constructs, frames, and captures; this labor-intensive process is her way of subverting the immediacy of digital photography. In return, her photographs demand a slowness in viewing that is necessary for an appreciation of detail.

Rachel Granofsky. Ghost Sex, 2014; pigment print; 42 x 56 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Rachel Granofsky. Ghost Sex, 2014; pigment print; 42 x 56 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Teeming with the uncanny, Granofsky’s photographs are spatially ambiguous and conceptually disarming. Ghost Sex (2014) was inspired by a conversation around the idea of consensual sex with a ghost. It took six weeks to construct; most of the labor involved drawing lines parallel to the camera frame onto the space of the installation—Granofsky is resolute about honoring the preset parameters dictated by the position and vantage point of the camera. She employs the deception inherent to photography by playing with layering and depth, and blurring the lines between foreground and background through trompe l’oeil techniques of painting onto various surfaces. As a result, the composition of Ghost Sex makes sense only from one angle: that of the camera.

Rachel Granofsky. Madonna and Child, 2015; pigment print; 42 x 56 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Rachel Granofsky. Madonna and Child, 2015; pigment print; 42 x 56 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Ghost Sex uses an array of found material, and Granofsky labored to create the illusion of procreation through the dichotomy of the absent–present, a concept that the artist finds fascinating. For the artist, the eerie idea of intercourse with a ghost symbolizes the experience of an artist working in a studio, a solitary process of creation imbued with references that are not materially present. This notion is a recurring theme in Granofsky’s work, manifesting in various ways in works such as Madonna and Child (2015), with references to Immaculate Conception as a divine, yet companionless, form of procreation.

Rachel Granofsky. B.Anal, 2014; pigment print; 50 x 37 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Rachel Granofsky. b.Anal, 2014; pigment print; 50 x 37 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Madonna and Child is another carefully measured installation that fits seamlessly into the camera’s fixed vantage point, a fact that can be seen as a reflection of the immaculacy of divinity. However, imperfections are present as a testament to the inherent humanity of the artist’s creative process. Stains on the mattress and the discoloring of the Madonna’s upper torso (a mannequin Granofsky found on the street) symbolize the natural constraints of materiality. There’s a lot of tongue-in-cheek playfulness in the artist’s treatment of medium, material, and ideas, which translates into intricate and clever compositions.

Rachel Granofsky. Beans, Bed & the Body, 2014; pigment print; 33 x 44 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Rachel Granofsky. Beans, Bed & the Body, 2014; pigment print; 33 x 44 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Granofsky’s dedication to the integrity and constraints of her medium is impressive. In b.Anal (2014), a title that plays on the word banal and the tendency to “be anal,” Granofsky touches upon the idea of the creative process as a circuitous problem-solving exercise, where the maze becomes a “metaphor for art making; you enter a maze in order to try to get out.” The maze is also symbolic of the artist’s unhurried production technique. Laboriously taping the surface of the installation to achieve the illusion of a two-dimensional maze, Granofsky adopts an anti-digital approach that emphasizes slowness in creation and requires a similar slowness in perception on behalf of the viewer—without careful observation, the fastidiously drawn maze could be mistaken for a simple overlay in the photograph; slight contortions in the lines reveal the three-dimensionality of the pattern. For Granofsky, photography’s ability to fragment time and collapse space allows for a duplicity in perception that is generative. Her approach also draws attention to the manual process of creating a physical boundary for the image she wants to create and then capture. Sculpting space and creating the architecture of the photograph is, for Granofsky, ultimately a process imbued with mystery.

Rachel Granofsky. Pawn, 2014; pigment print; 22.4 x 16.8 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

Rachel Granofsky. Pawn, 2014; pigment print; 22.4 x 16.8 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

 

Rachel Granofsky received her MFA from California College of the Arts 2013 and her BFA in photography from Pratt Institute in 2003. She has exhibited in numerous group shows in South Africa, Germany, Sweden, Canada, the USA, and Brazil, and has been awarded artist residencies at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2015), the Wassaic Artist Residency (2014), Greatmore Studios, South Africa (2011), and CELLspace, San Francisco (2010). Currently based in Brooklyn, she is developing a body of photographs using tropes of trompe l’oeil painting in combination with sculptural interventions to parody the imagery and language of real-estate listings in the greater New York area.

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