Artist Profile: Rachel Reupke


Rhizome's Artist Profiles are interviews with artists that have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here. Rachel Reupke's solo exhibition Wine & Spirits is on view at Cell Project Space in London through 27 October.

Rachel Reupke, Wine & Spirits (2013). 20 minutes, HD video

LMF: For several years now you have been working within the aesthetics of advertising imagery and the style of stock image photography. In Wine & Spirits (2013), your new film, the two characters (who are in a variety of situations involving the consumption of alcohol) are posed stock-still for long, drawn-out moments. Occasionally, I wondered if I was watching a freeze frame, until I saw a twitch or a flicker of a tendon. As with your previous work, there is a feeling of epic flatness and the constant suggestion that the gestures of the actors will be used to sell something. Yet it is partly we as viewers who are transforming the film into advertising—and imagining the context in which these bodies or objects might be used, such as in a brochure for a pub or hotel. How did you arrive at the particular choices that you made here in terms of the romantically-framed couple, the date-like drinking context?

RR: Each of the five scenes is based on a still image, some from print advertising and some photojournalism. The still reference is used quite literally in that the actors rarely move out of a posture and the camera rarely moves. Each scene has a slightly different aesthetic, in part dictated by the reference (art direction and lighting) and in part by the nature of the relationship between the couple. Initially, I was going to use different actors to play each scene, but in the end I decided to use the same actors throughout, opening up the possibility for the viewer to attempt to follow a thread. Ultimately, though, as we are actually watching five different couples rather than one, the relationship fails to develop. The drinking contexts are all English (except for one which is pretty much a dream sequence), so it is grounded in pub culture and pint after pint.