Guest contributor Eileen Jeng / Sara Greenberger Rafferty’s exhibition at Rachel Uffner Gallery explored the themes of performance, stand-up comedy, media culture, and gender identity that have preoccupied the artist for almost a decade. With several large-scale wall pieces of irregularly-shaped Plexiglas, screws drilled through acetate into the wall, and a polysilk curtain installation, Rafferty employs new mediums while continuing to challenge the definitions of photography, sculpture, and painting.
[Image: Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Untitled, 2014, acrylic polymer and inkjet print on acetate on Plexiglas, and hardware, Irregular: 26 1/2 x 39 x 1/2 inches.]
The cohesive and impressive two-floor exhibition of Rafferty’s work, all dated 2014, suits the large, new space on Suffolk Street. Upon entering the gallery, one sees a lone work, Untitled, which sets the stage for the exhibition. The piece comprises layers of inkjet prints on acetate – a door with an “Audience Entrance” sign and what could be seen as pulled blinds or lined notebook paper – as well as paint and solvents.
The appropriated prints are damaged with water through Rafferty’s recognizable “waterlogging process.” In the main space, on large Plexiglas fitted with a clear handle are images of two microphones – one more mangled than the other – and ghostly feet. Acrylic polymer is smeared in the background, resembling perhaps a curtain or pie splatter. There is an honesty that has always been present in Rafferty’s deliberately unpolished-looking work. While the artist certainly does not hide her process, it can be perplexing to discern – it requires a continual examination of the surface. Rachel Uffner explains that Rafferty applies the paint on one side of the acetate and then flips it over.
As noted in the exhibition’s press release, Rafferty utilizes theatrical tropes, including a stool, noose, and stage sets, as well as the quotidian, such as flies and bathroom door signs. An almost floor-to-ceiling piece on plastic, Printed Frame with Stool, depicts a single stool on a white background in a multi-colored frame. Images of numerous flies and a clear plastic collared shirt are mounted on a white polysilk curtain, which takes up the entire back wall of the gallery. With the implication of a human presence, Rafferty’s work deals with humor and the absurd, yet there is a sense of melancholy, leaving an unsettling feeling in the viewer. Vague representations of the female body, including self-portraits, make some of the works more personal. Rafferty’s work continues to fascinate and intrigue, and it will be interesting to see what direction she goes in next.
“Sara Greenberger Rafferty,” Rachel Uffner, Lower East Side, New York, NY. October 26 – December 21, 2014.