Rachel Bacon

Rachel Bacon 1
Rough Cut Specimen no. 2, 2021, graphite on paper on foil, 220 x 140 cm
Rachel Bacon 2
What Do Landscapes Say? 2020, exhibition at Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, NL, 07 September – 15 November 2020, 12 drawings hung on a free standing wooden panel wallpapered with digital print of open-pit diamond mine in Siberia, 405 x 203 cm
Rachel Bacon 3
Another Orebody, 2020, graphite on paper on foil, 70 x 124 cm

Currently I'm exploring how drawing can work within larger issues concerning landscape, extraction industries and the aesthetics of the climate emergency. In pieces, sometimes folded, always damaged in some way, the drawings have a physical presence inviting viewers to experience the fragility and vulnerability of the material world, towards an identification with their own bodies. I draw with graphite on crumpled paper; normally considered a mistake and thrown away, the damage to the paper is revealed and made valuable through careful mark-making. The crumpled paper of the drawing may resemble both aging skin patterns and the lands’ erosion, inviting a further association between bodies and the earth. In this way, the damaged drawing invites an encounter and identification with the vulnerability and limits of materiality. Into the semi-sculptural drawings I am also gradually incorporating elements and experiences from my research into open-pit coal and diamond mining. Graphite, coal and diamonds are allotropes of carbon, meaning they are chemically identical. In a form of reverse alchemy, the humble graphite mark becomes valuable, while the damaged landscapes underlying the extraction of costly coal and diamonds are made visible.

I wish to question the human-centered view and explore what a landscape might look like from the perspective of the excavated materials themselves, contrasting the slow time of drawing with the fast time of economic exploitation, using different speeds of mark-making, small and large scales and man-made and raw materials. I hope to open space for a dialogue about the relationship of human beings with our surroundings and the way perception may influence the values that can have such a destructive impact on our environment. Guiding my current research is an exploration of the relationship between the additive mark-making of drawing and the extractive one of mining, and how an understanding of this connection might lead to an artistic practice capable of addressing the ecological crisis. My practice involves field trips to open-pit mining sites, experimental and practical research on drawing methods, as well as extensive reading of current thinkers on ecology, the history and imagery associated with extraction industries and the phenomenological properties of drawing.

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