Written by Wanda De Rosa
Despite gaining notoriety through performance, Rachel Libeskind has rapidly emerged as a multidisciplinary artist. Youngest daughter of the architect Daniel Libeskind, starting from an itinerant eclectic upbringing between Milan, Berlin and New York, Rachel’s work reflects her extensive curiosity of both historical subjects and contemporary media. Eternally fascinated by religious relics and medieval depictions of Christians rituals and after years of research her interest comes to surface shaped as a multifaceted visually powerful exhibition. The Circumcision of Christ and Modern Oblivion is her first exhibition in the UK showing digitally printed tapestries with renaissance paintings of one of the most controversial events of the life of Christ.
Bypassing the religious matter, the subject analysed is clearly mundane rather than spiritual; it openly bridges both Jewish and Christians beliefs in order to create an impact for those just discovering this relatively unknown aspect of Christ’s life.
One of the core points of the display is to channel the viewers attention towards a modern replica of ancient artistic depictions of Christ’s circumcision. Using contemporary and “ready-made” media like WalMart’s custom tapestry prints and fake roman nails bought on ebay to hang them, isn’t really a reference to mass production: “Personally I don’t really care that they [the prints] were made at WalMart but when some people find out, they think it’s like a great joke on the American mass market.” Libeskind reveals this in conversation with Contini Art exhibition curator Diego Giolitti, then adding “I left on those little American tags that they come with which say, “Made in the USA”… I’ve continued to push this idea and even used eBay to source the nails that I want to hang the tapestries with.” From Libeskind’s past experience and artistic approach, it becomes clear that the “mass market joke” is only a further interpretation given to a work based mainly on exploiting ordinary modern tools in order to re-tell an ancient story. With collages having been one of her first expressive media, Libeskind’s choice for tapestry results in a natural evolution of her early artistic approach into something that a wider public may appreciate in multiple forms: “This work is not necessarily wall bound- so if somebody wanted to have it draped on an object, they could have it like that. If somebody wanted to have it as a blanket or something like that, they could also have it that way, even though that’s somewhat absurd.” Rachel herself uses the word “absurd” to describe the way in which her art may find a place in daily life, yet it somehow also reflects the atmosphere and the kind of attention her tapestries draw from their audience.
The Circumcision of Christ and Modern Oblivion can be seen at Contini Art UK, 105 New Bond Street, until 31st of October 2016.