Rachel Labine

My work sits within the tension between flattened two-dimensional space and affective
embodied experience, where spatial flips and pauses occur at the levels of both picture and the room in which we stand. I create paintings, performances, and immersive installations engaging natural and artificial lighting conditions as sites for playfully negotiating this tension. Images across the formal spectrum of my work trace the edge of being named, holding scale, legibility, and longing in a slippery grip.
I consider how attention is invited and slowed through paintings in oil on small dense panels,
acrylic poured through frayed plastic, suspended like diaphanous architecture overlapping with sunlight colored by window vinyls. I arrange these works together, creating relationships of varying tenors between them and including the viewer, concerned with the body’s role in seeing and understanding. I see this feminist position as responding to a traditional line of thought in painting and photography that assumes a picture to originate from a supposedly neutral, disembodied vantage point. The way we calibrate shifts and distortions in scale with our bodies, as how in order to truly view an artwork you must stand in a room with it, and tensions summoned within and among paintings, textiles, and vinyls can shake loose the sense of inevitability tied to our tendencies to attach language to what we see and to separate our vision from our physical selves. Small compositions that feel large emphasize the difference between size, which is measured, and scale, which is sensed.
My work engages legibility as material the way that sound is material, attention as rhythmic
device, the register being analog with a finer gradation than conjuring language or not.
Taut stem, blithe spirit (2017) is a two-dimensional surface dense with multiple gravitational pulls. In Hairline tremor (2019) and
Threaded still (2019) plastic threads pulled away from each other hold time. The support follows the same logic and language as the marks on the surface, weaving undone through repetition, creating and simultaneously unmaking an image. In much of my work the image pulls away as you draw near, an invitation to imagine being closer to something out of reach. This work takes pleasure in aligning small adjacencies and brief sightlines, tiny spaces slipped open between bits of frayed plastic and iridescent resin beads in which scale and distance become momentarily, impossibly pliable, that you or I could almost step into, a longing to be somewhere else answered briefly from standing in a certain place in a certain light.
Bending a space with light draws attention toward what is already there, toward how a still
image can only exist within time which is moving, draws attention toward how a viewer’s body casts shadows in light, also always bound by time. In By turns diffuse and binding
(2019), gels recalling stained glass cast candy-colored noon sunlight onto the floor. As the daylight wanes magenta fluorescent light slowly seeps in and over small dense paintings on panel, reflected from draped suspended vinyl in sharp moments of gloss. The magenta lights in back spill onto the sidewalk overnight, beaming toward the adjacent freeway like a pink ghost in each driver’s periphery. This piece began with a passing thought about how basilica windows and club
lighting are both meant to stir you someplace beyond argument and language, how light on its
way brings you with it.