Appear to Disappear
September 11 – October 24, 2009
Galleries One and Two

Exhibition Text


ANDREW RAFACZ is pleased to announce Appear to Disappear, our first solo exhibition of Selina Trepp.

Chicago, IL, September 11, 2009 – Andrew Rafacz opens the fall season with a new site-specific video installation by Selina Trepp. The artist will also present a series of new conceptual paintings in Gallery Two. This is the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery. It continues through Saturday, October 24, 2009.

Over the last several years, Trepp has created emotionally and physically charged spaces with her video installations. Her unique use of shards of mirrored glass, both sculpturally and logistically to reflect her projections and light sources, reveals an interest in the dramatic possibilities of place and how a narrative, often both entrenched in reality and strangely exotic or surreal, can unfold in that place. Her videos are largely narrative, and they investigate identity via performance, with the artist directing her actors through a series of actions that may seem out of place or strangely banal, but add up to something greater. The final scenario may be conceptual, but it is also the product of chance and experiment.

With Appear to Disappear, Trepp has created a new video installation that investigates presence and absence, identity and race. Born in Switzerland, with dual Swiss and American citizenship, the artist has always had multiple cultures to call home, informing her interest in how identity can be fragile and easily fractured. In the video, two figures are revealed. The female figure is present at the start, and she is throwing rocks from one bucket into another. She then moves to the other side of the screen and begins to spray paint a large piece of glass in front of her. The male figure emerges from the other side, repeating the original action of throwing rocks. Eventually he throws a rock at the glass, breaking it. He moves to the glass, crushing it further under his feet as the female figure returns on the other side to resume her throwing of rocks. The scenario depicts the passing of time, both benignly and violently. Most of the set is unseen, as the film is over-exposed, allowing the actors who have darker skin and are wearing bright, primary colors to be revealed. When the female figure paints the mirror white, she erases herself from the frame, only to have that obfuscation destroyed when the glass breaks. The viewer must imagine much of the action, as the dramatic events (the rocks hitting the bucket, the mirror breaking) are only heard. Finally, the video, on a seamless loop, depicts a sense of eternal return as if the subjects are caught in these actions indefinitely. Rather than evoking a sense of Beckettian absurdity, there is ultimately a sense of calm that hangs over the proceedings, as the figures seem resolved to their respective existences.

The artist will also premiere a new body of ‘museum labels’ for imaginary works, continuing her predilection for the real versus the imaginary. Each lists a work’s title, materials used, the artist’s name and the year of production. Through their mysterious and often humorous titles, they depict the idea rather than the object they describe, becoming the actual art object in the process.

SELINA TREPP (Swiss/American, b. 1973, in Zurich, Switzerland) lives and works in Chicago. She received her B.F.A. from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1998 and her M.F.A. from the University of Illinois Chicago in 2007. She was part of Throb Throb: Rock and Roll Currents in Chicago Art Today, curated by Dominic Molon, for Jil Sander in 2007. She has exhibited work at the NEXT art fair in 2008 and 2009, both with Andrew Rafacz. Upcoming solo projects and exhibitions for 2009 include TINA B., in Prague, and Christinger de Mayo, Zurich. She is a recipient of the Swiss Art Award as well as an Illinois Arts Council Grant.