A R T I S T S T A T E M E N T
O P T I C A L S C U L P T U R E S / P H O T O B A S E D W O R K
One aim in my work is to call attention to and question the Cartesian structure of vision, in which subject and observer are separate entities. A further aim is to question the world around us and how it is re-presented to us through cultural institutions and the mass media. The theoretical import of this work harks back to semiotics and ideas surrounding the rhetoric of the photographic image. On a formal level this ongoing body of work collapses and challenges the boundaries between sculpture, language and photography.
description: Contained inside the wall hung, white boxed optical
sculptures are black and white photographs, that become three dimensional
when one looks through the lenses, creating a spatial illusion of something
photographic, yet completely imagined or constructed. The prints are
toned silver gelatin prints of objects inside the photographs were created
solely for the purpose of being photographed. The gallery walls are
also inscribed with handwritten text.
R A W I N G S
Rebecca is currently making a series of anamorphic drawings on the mirror as symbol in history and culture.
For the most recent public art projects, please visit this page.
SELECTIONS TAKEN FROM PUBLISHED AND NON-PUBLISHED WRITINGS BY CURATORS, CRITICS AND ACADEMICS
- Dr. Carrie Lambert-Beatty (John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Humanities
Rebecca Hackemann's dreamlike images oscillate between present and past, liberation and repression, beauty and the bizarre. Views from the perspective of a child comfortingly crouched under a woman's skirt, for instance, turn to nightmare visions of the maternal body. A tongue doing weight training curls out from the picture plain. A tea-tray emulating the hoopskirt turns punny and funny. These image text combinations, be they within her photographic books or her stereoscopic 3-d photographs challenge and trick the viewer both visually and intellectually not to accept the world at face value and to question 'fact', 'history', 'social norms' as well as 'phantasy norms'. Influenced by such figures as Hieronymous Bosch, William Kentridge, John Heartfield, Oscar Wilde and fairy tales, her images are haunting, beautiful, sometimes disturbing, but uniquely humorous, intellectually sharp and recognizable.
- San Francisco Chronicle,"Artist at work - Creating art outside the box - No limits: Headlands Center for the Arts pushes boundaries", Friday, April 22nd, 2005, by Ulysses Torassa, Chronicle Staff Writer
- The New York Times, "Young and Provocative, Time is on their side", September 12th, 2004, by Benjamin Genocchio
- Stereo World, Rebecca Hackemann Reinvents Stereo Photographic Art Form; tbd, 2005, by Bruce Bahlmann, http://www.birds-eye.net
[...]"Experiencing Rebecca’s art is about looking and seeing. The content of photography in general is about how we see the world. Just as two human eyes see in 3-D, so do the lenses on a stereo camera provide a 3-D illusion in photography. This theme carries through into Rebecca’s photographs and the things that one might not normally see (or perceive). Playing with associations between the collective image bank that people hold in their minds unconsciously and pushing these associations between the text and photograph is intentionally meant to challenge the mind to relate the photograph to the text through rhetoric and something personally meaningful to the viewer." [...]
- The Sunday Star Ledger. "Aljira Emerge 2003 presents amazing examples of technique". August 15th 2004, by Dan Bischoff
- Sara Klar is a painter and writer living in Greenpoint Brooklyn, New York
UNSEEM - Rebecca Hackemann & Jihyun Park
- Broadband Properties Magazine, "Broadband, HDTV, and Video Art - An artistic window with a view towards next generation broadband services"; June 2005; by Bruce Bahlmann, owner of www.Birds-Eye.Net
- Crain's New York Business, "Arts Group Shows Promise", Sept/Oct, 2003, by Emily deNitto
- WWD, "Art in Brooklyn", November 20th, 2003
(accompanied by 6 pages of 9 images)
2. Evenly spaced and wall-mounted, Hackemanns works resemble minimalist objects. Their horizontal span accentuates the architectural frame, while the matte white surfaces subtly register the immediacies of light. Yet lenses embedded in their sides open onto stereoscopic images. Just as the pregnant angel in The Revolt of the Angels is both mother and child, container and contained, the boxes cater to two viewing distancesfar and nearalternately bleeding into their context or presenting private, interior worlds.
3. Simultaneously and respectively channeling each eye towards slightly different photographs, the stereoscope eliminates the single viewpoint assured by monocular perspective. As Jonathan Crary has noted, the stereo image offers an assemblage of local zones of three-dimensionality [that] never coalesce into a homogeneous field. Visually fragmented, the resulting composites effect is theatrical. Indeed, early Wheatstone stereoscopes employed angled mirrors to reflect photographs held parallel to the line of visionmirrors to which The Progress appropriately adds a crystalline cloud of smoke.
4. In lodging vision within the subject, the stereoscope disengages observer from object of vision. Similarly, while the female figure in The Institute of Incoherent Geography clasps a double-lensed apparatus to her eyes, apparently mirroring the stereoscopic observer, her sightline, in fact, pitches to the upper left. Fracturing monocular perspectives equation of eye and vanishing point, the offset axis voids the mutually affirmative reciprocity that once bound subject and object together in an immobile universe, heralding instead a geography that, as the title suggests, is insistently incoherent.
5. If Hackemanns stereoscopic images undermine the fixity of monocular perspective, the collective arrangement of the boxes simultaneously dismantles the disembodied eye of modernism. Not only reminiscent of minimalisms incorporation of the viewers bodily movement, the ambient sound generated by other viewers recalls the approaching footsteps that interrupt Sartres visual mastery through a keyhole and underscore his corporeality in The Look. Indeed, The Unbearable Lightness of BeingAn Intellectual conjures less the lightness of the body distilled to its pure optical faculty than its inescapable heft.
6. Hackemanns concomitant reference to stereoscopy and minimalism is not accidental. Just as the former places the viewing subject in a fluid world of ceaselessly circulating commodities, so the latter replaces the art object with total design, reflecting the rapacious expansion of capitalism. In this regard, The Turkey, depicting a quasi-anthropological bird surrounded by theatrical props, is less disarmingly fictional than disturbingly portentous, describing as it does an objectified subject within a totally controlled environment.
7. Presenting two exemplars of corporate capitalism, The HuMans elaborates this cautionary tale. Despite their upright bearing, the suited figures are headless, devoid of visual and linguistic abilities alikethe defining features of the human. In contrast, Hackemanns works comprise precisely a combination of image and text. Indeed, the caption here specifically elaborates the centrality of language: The reason they never mastered conversation wasnt because humans were too complex, but because they were so simple.
8. Hackemann draws from early nineteenth century physiology to late twentieth century art. With systematic consistency, the elements of her works demonstrate a commitment to maintaining multiple viewpointsa commitment that is not merely theoretical, but has practical political consequences too. As the replacement of the notes in the first bar of the Star Spangled Banner by blindfolded heads in Oh, say! Can you see? suggests, this project is perhaps now more urgent than ever.
Christopher K. Ho is a curator and art historian who divides his time between New York City and Providence, Rhode Island where he teaches at the Rhode Island School of Design.
- NY Arts, “Choice and Consultation at The HOTEL DE LA MOLE: an alt-biennial”, ?/2002, by Horace Brockington
Rebecca Hackemann, German born, grew up in Bavaria in what was then called West Germnay. She studied photography inLondon, England, and Stanford University (MFA). The artist now lives in New York. Most recently Rebecca Hackemann completed a residency in the Whitney Museum's ISP program. Although the artist has exhibited extensively in several solo and group exhibitions and has work in collections such as the Musee Francais de la Photographie France, adn the Museum fuer Fotographie, Germany, her work is only presently being shown here.
The artistis informed by the history of photography that becomes a key element of the work, a scientific history of anatomy and physiology, and surrealist notions of seeing and perceiving simultaneous realities. It is the pleasure of having no definite meaning that moves the work to delightful terrain of speculation not unlike the mystical boxes of Joseph Cornell or the mysterious world of Dali.
Hackemann creates photographic installations, and photographic book works whose subject/images combine contemporary stereo photography and historical optical illusion. The foundation of the work is based in a surrealist context and play of optical and scientific aspect of visual perception and illusion. The works play off complex and multifaceted aspects of observing reality and a more fantastic imaginary world. Hackemann's early works resemble complex strange and enormous one of a kind books often with strange references that are reflected in their titles - "The Autopsy of an Historian", "Scaled Down - a handbook for fishes about humans", and "The Incredible Hystery of the Artists" and "The Ideal Sight Restorer" - all defy any clear explanation. Several of the works require stereoglasses for propper viewing.
The books' images are based on photographs and drawing from 18th and 19th century scientific studies. They are equally related to Surrealist interest in book art and the numberous ambiguous mystical works that the Surrealist Circle created during they most productive period. These images include text that provides no direct entry into the work rather they function to further obscure meaning.
Hackemann's most recent work is highly cinematic, - white stereoscopic boxes in which rather strange images of toned silver gelatin photographsy is presented. The imagery still appears based on surreal framework and dependent on stereo photography. A consequence of such an approach the works are read as unique individual three dimensional objects rather work as simple photographs.
Horace Brockington is a writer and critic who lives and works in New York, NY
- The Washington Times, “Notable and New”, announcement/review listing, "Salvador Dali: a modern homage to a modern icon", Fraser Gallery, 1999
- The Buffalo News, “At Hallwalls, the world in an untidy set of boxes”, Feb 13th, 1997, by Richard Huntington
[...]Social Commentary is strong throughout. My favorite is Rebecca Hackemann's "The Art Critics", a stereoscopic viewer that reveals bloodless, disembodied heads suspended in a wire cage. Could she have had a bad experience with critics?" [...]
work combines historic-looking images with the technique of stereoscopic
photography to produce startling illustrations. Dealing frequently with
philosophy or gender related issues. Ms. Hackemann’s art produces
an uneasy sense of displacement within the viewer, who is never certain
in which time frame to locate the work. The resulting tension is acute,
forcing us to interpret the work on its own terms, rather than those
of an imposed stylistic framework.
clearly understands that humor does not have to exclude intelligence,
and her work is richer for this awareness. With her photographs, Ms,
Hackemann reveals the world that exists at the periphery of our awareness
and illuminates the mysteries therein. Each image offers richly layered
worlds that require the viewer’s own imagination and perception
to complete the effect. In this way, her photographs become studies
in perception and illusion, unsettling our most basic assumptions about
is that rare combination in a contemporary artist – highly intelligent,
yet presented in a delightfully populist, witty, and deeply humanistic
manner, keenly aware and steeped in the history of art, yet fresh, innovative,
and decidedly vibrant in the present sense;and, above all, a serious
exploration of our present-day cultural hypocrisies and dilemmas yet
retaining an unabashed optimism and idealism in the truest sense.
imagery is highly original and engages the viewer with witty and thoughtful
literary and historical references.
is known for her intellectual complexity combined with her extraordinary
artistic skill. She is separated from her peers by her training and
proficiency in many different disciplines, including photography, stereo
photography, artists books letterpress, drawing, sculpture and installations.