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The following statement was written for the exhibition Frank Rodick: Faces, Flesh, and Other Hallucinations, hosted by Kirk Hopper Fine Art, 2014, in Dallas.
Asked to comment on his film Code Unknown, Michael Haneke replied with a list of questions instead – questions that, as he put it, motivated and triggered him to make the film. One of those questions was Can reality be represented?
It’s a simple, but insightful, question. After all, it seems reasonable to say that this is a big part of what artists are after: the representation, or re-presentation, of reality. But it begs another question, namely: What kind of reality?
Traditional photography is the medium par excellence for representing physical surfaces. Crudely put, a photograph of, say, a landscape usually looks like the real thing. And that’s in spite of the obvious ways in which it’s different – landscapes aren’t two dimensional, square borders don’t bound them, and they don’t generally measure 20 x 24 inches or whatever.
But what about realities other than the physical? I’m talking about feelings, sensations, internal experiences – those nebulous things of what we call the subjective world. They’re what I’ve always wanted to explore using my pictures. I’m interested in making images that come out of engaging experiences like the sensations of mortality, feelings of elemental doubt, the vague and shifting contours of memory, the unceasing process of trying to make sense of who we are as physical bodies and incorporeal presences.
So, moving from what Haneke asked, can those realities be represented? What a difficult question to answer. I think that, because they’re so fluid and amorphous, it’s more precise to say that an artist can reimagine these realities. And, as I’ve said elsewhere, this is what the novelist Céline was getting at when he said he wanted to create hallucinations more real than our everyday world – that latter place being where engagement with our inner world atrophies, washed away in the drone of quotidian living.
But ultimately, whatever the answer might be, it’s not my burden to know it. Making pictures is my answer, and that’s enough for me.
– Frank Rodick, February 2014.
FR (Persona 2)
©Frank Rodick 2012