Rachel Harrison to exhibit at Whitechapel Gallery

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The Independent Culture

An exhibition by artist Rachel Harrison is due to open at the Whitechapel Gallery this Friday.

'Rachel Harrison: Conquest of the Useless' is the New York-based artist's first major UK installation and combines a wide range of mediums including photography, painting, sculpture, video, installation and architectural fragments..

At the heart of this survey show is her installation 'Indigenous Parts' a work which has been recreated in multiple locations, mutating with each context. Here it incorporates plinths borrowed from London’s museums clustered into a landscape of towers and plateaus on which objects are arranged in ritualistic scenarios. Her vibrantly coloured sculptures and deadpan videos create a complex panorama occupied by totemic sculptures bearing the attributes of iconic male figures such as Johnny Depp or Fats Domino.

Harrison’s work evokes a range of references and antecedents, a give-and-take between pop culture and the history of art. The title of the exhibition is drawn from Werner Herzog’s reflections on his 1982 film Fitzcarraldo, the tale of a would be rubber baron who aims to build an opera hall in the Amazonian jungle. The epic folly of this and Herzog’s own, nearly fatal vision of re-creating his subject’s quest to drag a steamer over a Peruvian mountain, finds its parallel in Harrison’s work.

Rachel Harrison: Conquest of the Useless, runs from 30 April to 20 June at the Whitechapel Gallery. Admission is free and opening times are Tuesday to Sunday, 11am – 6pm and Thursdays, 11am – 9pm.