Show & Tell: Rachel Harrison’s Weird and Wacky Funhouse at Greene Naftali

Harrison's sculptures will make you feel young again.

Rachel Harisson, Greatest Hits, 2017, wood, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap, cement, acrylic, synthetic hair, dolly, engineered quartz, trigger clamp, Museum with Walls catalogue, sketchbooks, plastic cup, paintbrushes, and lead shot. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.
Rachel Harisson, Greatest Hits, 2017, wood, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap, cement, acrylic, synthetic hair, dolly, engineered quartz, trigger clamp, Museum with Walls catalogue, sketchbooks, plastic cup, paintbrushes, and lead shot. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Peter Schjeldahl once wrote of Rachel Harrison’s work: “[It] is both the zestiest and the least digestible in contemporary art. It may also be the most important.” Harrison’s art continues to be both zesty and difficult to digest in her latest exhibition at Greene Naftali, esoterically titled “Prasine.” (The word apparently means “having the green color of a leek,” and indeed, the color green is peppered throughout Harrison’s show.)

A master of ambiguity with a fondness for the strange and abstruse, Harrison’s sculptures evoke a feeling of youthful exuberance. They often feature amorphous cement blobs of color and are at once recondite, ugly, and surprisingly engrossing. Her new works look like artifacts from a crazy, cool glam-rock funhouse, and they are installed throughout the gallery space as if they were set pieces. They are a cast of players, each with its own role to play in an unfolding drama.

The show’s press release—which is, admittedly, completely unintelligible if you are looking for details on the show itself—also references this idea. It is written like a one-act play that chronicles the interactions among the sculptures in Harrison’s show and the works of art that inspired them, including the ancient Winged Victory of Samothrace and Hans Haacke’s Condensation Cube (1963–65).

Harrison creates worlds that are dominated by a sense of wonder and intellect. Due to her formalist pedigree, powerful wit, and strong knowledge of art history, she is able to turn us away from her work while simultaneously drawing us back in.

Below, see some images from a show that happily befuddles the mind.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Winged Victory, 2017, scaffold, plexiglass, Winged Victory of Samothrace, flocking, polystyrene, papier-mâché, steel, acrylic, wood, plastic, metal stanchion, parachute cord, candle, aluminum foil, biodegradable packing peanuts, and pencil. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Winged Victory, 2017, scaffold, plexiglass, Winged Victory of Samothrace, flocking, polystyrene, papier-mâché, steel, acrylic, wood, plastic, metal stanchion, parachute cord, candle, aluminum foil, biodegradable packing peanuts, and pencil. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Detail of Winged Victory, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Detail of Winged Victory, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

 

Detail of Winged Victory, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Detail of Winged Victory, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

 

Installation view. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Installation view. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Pie, 2017, wood, plastic, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap, cement, metal, rubber, acrylic, enamel, and cloth banner. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Pie, 2017, wood, plastic, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap, cement, metal, rubber, acrylic, enamel, and cloth banner. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Untitled, 2017, wood, polystyrene, chicken wire, cardboard, burlap, cement, acrylic, and framed pigmented inkjet print. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Untitled, 2017, wood, polystyrene, chicken wire, cardboard, burlap, cement, acrylic, and framed pigmented inkjet print. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Marilyn With Wall, 2017, Sheetrock, aluminum studs, wood, and chromogenic print. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali.

Rachel Harrison, Marilyn With Wall, 2017, Sheetrock, aluminum studs, wood, and chromogenic print. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali.

Rachel Harrison,Untabled (Title) 1694, 2017, wood, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, Krion, gymnastics rings, straps, toy gun, and bandana. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Untabled (Title) 1694, 2017, wood, polystyrene, cement, acrylic, Krion, gymnastics rings, straps, toy gun, and bandana. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Detail of Greatest Hits, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Detail of Greatest Hits, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Every Sculpture Needs a Trap Door, 2017, wood, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap, cement, plastic, acrylic, lacquer, metal tin, pushpins, and Andrea Fraser’s Why Does Fred Sandback's Work Make Me Cry?. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison, Every Sculpture Needs a Trap Door, 2017, wood, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap, cement, plastic, acrylic, lacquer, metal tin, pushpins, and Andrea Fraser’s Why Does Fred Sandback’s Work Make Me Cry?. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Detail of Every Sculpture Needs a Trap Door, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Detail of Every Sculpture Needs a Trap Door, 2017. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harris, Bears Ears, 2017, wood, chicken wire, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap,cement, acrylic, enamel, Nu-Wave drywall cart, soccer ball, and USB flash drive with 38 Harun Farocki films. Images courtesy Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harris, Bears Ears, 2017, wood, chicken wire, polystyrene, cardboard, burlap,cement, acrylic, enamel, Nu-Wave drywall cart, soccer ball, and USB flash drive with 38 Harun Farocki films. Images courtesy Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrision, Scifi, 2017, cardboard, cement, polystyrene, wood, burlap, and acrylic. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrision, Scifi, 2017, cardboard, cement, polystyrene, wood, burlap, and acrylic. Image courtesy of Greene Naftali, New York.

Rachel Harrison’s “Prasine” is on view at Greene Naftali, New York, April 29–June 17, 2017.


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