he San Francisco Arts Commission is pleased to present a new site-specific installation by Rachel Mica Weiss in our Grove Street Window Site. Weiss recently moved from San Francisco back to New York a few months before Hurricane Sandy struck. When the storm hit she was in the initial stages of creating her installation, and although her work has always incorporated materials related to the sea, such as industrial-grade netting, the poignancy and potency of the materials struck a personal chord as she watched nearby shores be torn apart.
The artist explains that Engulfing the Elusory is a “response to natural disasters in general, not just Sandy, and what role humans play in those disasters. It’s amazing how the sea came up to consume the shore and everything in its path. I’m interested in the dangers and constraints imposed by our changing climate and how humans manage their resulting vulnerabilities.”
The installation features oily, black fishing nets forced into large-scale forms on one side of the space, contrasted with equally imposing sculptural elements representing glaciers on the other side. Working on both literal and conceptual levels, her nets and glaciers represent vessels that can trap aspects of the sea, but can never hold it forever. Her materials are both dichotomous and complementary and engage in conversation with each other across a spatial gulf within the gallery. The two forms are hauntingly separated from the environments in which they can function properly. The oily black nets haven’t caught anything and the glaciers haven’t released the volume of water bound up in their mass. The stillness of the nets and glaciers in the window imbues the installation with an ominous tension, and special attention should be paid to the point in which the materials merge in the center of her constructed environment.
Rachel Mica Weiss received her B.A. from Oberlin College in 2008 and her M.F.A. from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2012. She is the recipient of The San Francisco Foundation Murphy & Cadogan Fellowship in the Fine Arts, and has been a resident at the Vermont Studio Center and at Village des Arts in Dakar, Senegal. She is currently living and working in Brooklyn as a resident of the Chashama Studio Program.