Rachel de Joode’s Fleshy Artworks Mesh Sculpture and Photography

  • Installation view of “Porosity” at Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris. Courtesy Galerie Christophe Gaillard and the artist.

    Installation view of “Porosity” at Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris. Courtesy Galerie Christophe Gaillard and the artist.

Rachel de Joode likes to play with surfaces. Photos of surfaces—skin, sweat, lumps of clay, minerals—have inspired the undulating inkjet prints and fleshy sculptures that are now on view  in her solo show in Paris, “Porosity.” The works evidence a combination of digital and physical sensibilities, producing a slippery, confounding effect that leads viewers to question not only the object before their eyes, but also, how to approach it. 

For “Porosity,” a stunning, dynamic display filling Galerie Christophe Gaillard’s light-filled space, de Joode worked with It’s Our Playground, a young, French collaborative specializing in art, design, and curatorial projects. Together, they developed the show’s unique exhibition design, ultimately transforming the space into what feels like entering the atelier of a 19th-century sculptor—as intended. And rather than the plaster casts one would expect to find, there are almost a dozen of de Joode’s three-dimensional inkjet prints, (works from her 2015 series “Here I am and things that exist. Ow!”). 

  • Installation view of “Porosity” at Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris. Courtesy Galerie Christophe Gaillard and the artist.

    Installation view of “Porosity” at Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris. Courtesy Galerie Christophe Gaillard and the artist.

Resembling cells or unknown organisms, these lively photographic works are perched atop wooden stools, like works-in-progress waiting to dry. The ambiance is heightened by two large, faux window frames with curtains hanging on either side of the space. From afar, the works appear to be sculptural, given dimension through the swirling, contrasting images they contain; but as one draws closer, the flat surfaces become apparent.

Lining one wall are six-foot-tall cylindrical sculptures, from her appropriately titled series “[makes squish gesture],” 2015. These pale, beigey-pink “squish sculptures” seem to want to be held and hugged—and they have been, by the artist herself. De Joode has left the marks of her body on the sculpture’s surface. 

Hanging and leaning against walls are inkjet prints from another series, “Drawing or flowy conglomeration. Hey!” (2015). The prints have been cut into shapes that loosely resemble an artist’s palette, with small holes for fingers, surrounded by scraps of images and beige scribbles, scattered about flat, grey backgrounds like blobs of paint. 

For de Joode, the distinction between art object and image is fluid. She is perfectly aware that following the exhibition of an artwork in a physical space, the object itself will live on digitally—as a jpeg, hovering eternally in the digital universe on a website, as an email attachment, an Instagram. “Porosity plays with this tension between states of being, the works seem to be shifting from physical to digital before our very eyes.


—Blaire Dessent


Porosity” is on view at Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, Oct. 10–Nov. 14, 2015.


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