Radical Displacements

Sabrina Raaf's mechanical and robotic sculptures, installations, electronic wearables, and digitally manipulated photographs are all speculative fictions. They anticipate a not-so-distant futuristic world in which smart drugs, genetic engineering, experiments with anti-gravity, and climate change have radically altered human perceptions of time, space, nature, and identity. In 'Icelandic Rift,' a kinetic sculptural installation representing a vision of agricultural and industrial activity in a zero-gravity environment, Raaf connects four starkly engineered yet sensuously biomorphic architectural structures floating above the floor in a system of artificial 'islands.' Inspired by the seemingly extraterrestrial landscapes of Iceland, this synthetic ecosystem contains reservoirs of dense black Ferrofluid (liquid magnet) made to spin, rise, twitch, or travel by electronically powered hard magnets and electromagnets that symbolize the systems' energy sources. Vaguely familiar yet unnervingly alien, the scenarios envisioned in Raaf's work offer a sense of the future that's paradoxically comforting, marvelous, and beautiful, yet fraught with incipient dread. 'Icelandic Rift' and other projects are currently on view, through June 3, in 'rift --> ad-rift,' the artist's solo exhibition at Chicago's Wendy Cooper Gallery. - Marcia Tanner