Rachael Haynes – Unthinkable
Working simultaneously across several media, Rachael Haynes’ practice takes us from historical dissection to embodied acts, Haynes’ practice playfully uses the material of art history and philosophical discourse placing these in relation to the politics of gender.
For BEAF2013 Haynes presents ‘Unthinkable’, an exploration of the politics of art making and its historicisation in the recent past, specifically here looking at the once dominant style and movement of Abstract-Expressionism. Abstract Expressionism, notorious for its phallocentricism, has been historicised almost exclusively as being led by male practitioners, most often at the exclusion of the more interesting approaches. Abstract Expressionism as a historical category has suffered from largely being constituted by discourses inflected with subtle and not so subtle generalizations, projections, and circumscriptions surrounding narrow definitions of gender characteristics and traits. This is the site at which Haynes’ ‘Unthinkable’ builds up a powerful critique that not only dissects but also wryly plays with misrepresentations invoked by the movement.
The effectiveness of ‘Unthinkable’ lies in the synthesis of historical source and embodied action; not only are images and text selected and reinterpreted to highlight aspects of the history, but these selections also act as a framing device for Haynes’ own painterly event. The work itself is a palimpsest of tangentially linked associations that work to bring us from the past into the present. This element of the work, namely Haynes’ performance of her own Ab-Ex painting is inflected and amplified through the polemic of her political message.
When Haynes steps into the prosthetics of her drawing suit the artist is transformed. She becomes other. Haynes’ body acts through a simultaneity of both restraint and excess, movement is limited but also augmented by the prosthetic. Literally ‘shooting from the hip’ the drips, stains and shots of Haynes’ ‘Unthinkable’ bring us through history to take aim at now. We are brought into direct confrontation with the essential ‘ground’ of the body and the paradoxical nature of our being in it, that it is a container for our ‘self’ but that it is also porous – and maybe, most importantly so – that we are always more than its socially described limits and even its physiological ones.
– Stephen Russell