Ms Olympia Studies #16 #10 #4 (2017)
Rachel Rampleman (b. Cincinnati, Ohio) is a multimedia artist based in Brooklyn, New York. The exhibition REBEL REBEL features selected works by Rampleman which encourage and inspire viewers to reconsider their perspectives on the female body and femininity. These works engage viewers in a dynamic dialogue with concepts of identity, subjectivity, and masculinity - which in particular operate as dominating and dictating tools of patriarchy - and suggest possibilities for what comes next after the post-feminism of today’s digital reality. REBEL REBEL is designed as a virtual early career retrospective of Rachel Rampleman and showcases two of her most recent works entitled Rorschach Portrait (Calendar Girl; Summer) and Rebel Rebel (Pan Dulce in LACTIC Inc, Times Square).
As a woman who grew up in the suburbs of Midwestern America, the artist's very personal interest in these subjects initially arose while questioning what she was beginning to perceive as the culturally constructed roles of women and the corresponding expectations as to how they should live their lives. These explorations then evolved into ongoing research on and studies of gender and its constructs within American culture, and eventually these studies expanded to various international sub-cultures. Hers is the role of an observer who identifies those individuals who thrive at the edge of and beyond normality (whatever that stands for in the eyes of the system follower). Her observations contribute to a foundation of a female spectatorship built on humorous, insightful, and empathetic critiques which transform the observed into artistic expressions.
From the classic clichés of woman as home-maker to woman as sex object, the crystalized image of her beauty is designed to please and serve solely for men. Observations of performing female-ness and understanding of to-be-looked-at-ness appear in Rampleman's readings on femininity as bold and impulsive counter-attacks against the demanding and overwhelming hypocrisy of patriarchy. Women in Rampleman’s works who first take a beating from social norms and prejudices also ultimately re-write what to become a woman is in their own jargonized rhetoric. Infiltrating their everyday lives, sharing their public and private moments, and seeing the world as they see and react shape the artist’s motivation to employ documentary processes into her practice. Working with self-captured footage as well as building upon found imagery, and through lenses and filters tinted with bright florescent hues; the artist plays with gender stereotypes, explores concepts like cisnormativity, gender binarism, and reconstructs the foundation of gender fluidity.
Bodybuilder Portrait - Tazzie Colomb 12 min. (2011)
When the muscular structure of bodies form and function in the same way, pumping and toning similarly regardless of the differences drawn by the gender bias, we can and do physically illustrate how we’ve spent our days since the moment we were born – what we did or didn’t eat, which activities and exercises we were or were not engaged in, what we’ve done and the decisions we’ve made have literally shaped our bodies. According to the widely accepted premise that we exist in divisions that are emotionally, physically and spiritually organized, and considering we all are taught how to behave in societies which classify sex and gender into two distinct, opposite, and disconnected forms of masculine and feminine; how we are, look and feel today are the results of these learned strategies of being.
Rampleman's Ms Olympia Studies stand as a reminder that the whole concept of gender, as well as the stereotypes that go with it and which often result in biased opinions and negative judgements in current intolerant societies, will soon be archaic relics in the realm of human existence. In a stolen moment of pride, these women's well-tanned and toned, powerful yet delicately vascular, bodies are staged to demonstrate something intimate about themselves and the physical substance of identity possessed in their subjective expressions. The question is, however, who do these revealed personalities belong to: childhood, family, society, culture, or religion?
We have increasingly and extensively lost our interest or desire to fit in or to express selfhood to those who we find incapable of sensing the world in a wider capacity. Our belief systems, values, and fears are shifting. The values of societies are moving from the conformity/uniformity/anonymity so often imposed by morality, religion, family, and the system itself to the creativity, productivity, individuality, the speed of light, a desire to seek the truths of the universe, and ultimately the discovery of the full potential of the human mind. Engaging with Tazzie Colomb about her personal life, Rampleman discovers that what she deeply wishes for is to be able to be different, without being endlessly subjected to the ridicule and harsh words and judgements of narrow-minded people who don’t respect individuality or appreciate that what makes us different also makes our shared world interesting.
'In the case of bodybuilding women, issues of femininity are at stake.' (Morgan, 1993) ARE THEY, REALLY?
Busby Berkeley 2.0.3 (2016)
Night World - After Busby (2013)
Busby Berkeley 2.0.2 (2016)
Mesmerizing perfection of geometry, pulsating kaleidoscopes of legs, flashing glimpses of celluloid flesh - and the women who were once objectified by the male gaze and patriarchal privilege are now transformed into visual expressions of power by utilizing the tools of the ones in power against them. Rampleman's intellectual statement enhanced by the hypnotizing repetition of the imagery transfixes us within the frequency of acceptance and rebellion. Time capsules from the Golden Age of a Hollywood in the service of portraying impossible glamour choreographed for male pleasure are now exemplifying a payback dealt from a mass of beings who are mentally and emotionally linked, can sense, communicate and share their knowledge with respect and open-mindedness.
Rockettes Study (2017)
Trumping Studies #8 #7 #6 (2017)
The satirical caricature in the moving imagery of the Trumping Studies video series is a creative and cheeky response to the outdated ideology of a specific political figure and his public actions. The figure himself as a bold symbol of patriarchy is parodied, with his clownish appearance, signature gestures, and quirky characteristics uncannily impersonated by women. Trumping Studies’ happenings in multiple and infinite loops are reversed interpretations of the unsettling male gaze over the female subjectivity. The common disapproval for this political figure's antiquated ideas, as well as his lewd and misogynistic comments about women, signifies the language of the imagery as provocative and visually engaging. To enrich this engagement, the display here of these four works is designed to strengthen the artist's criticism shaped on behalf of all women who share in this similar discomfort in a form of visual response.
Rorschach Portrait (Calendar Girl; Summer) 4.21 min. (2018)
SOUND DESIGN | EGO SENSATION
Rebel Rebel (Pan Dulce in LACTIC Inc, Times Square) 3.17 min. (2018)
Two new works, Rorschach Portrait (Calendar Girl; Summer) and Rebel Rebel (Pan Dulce in LACTIC Inc, Times Square) emerge as the logical center of this exhibition and act as complement conceptually to one other. They also address the questions of if 1) a world constructed on the idea of gender fluidity is possible, 2) a system of gender binarism, which divides and defines social behaviors as feminine and masculine, will still be relevant to the identification process of human beings, 3) accordingly in which capacity the balance of dominance and submission in our individual existence will be reformulated as we accept that the seduction principles rule over organic, mechanic, digital and sensetional operations of the world.
Motley Girls (Girls Girls) Slideshow of 45 Images (2007-Present)
DOUBLE CLICK IMAGES FOR SLIDESHOW
"...the women of Girls Girls Girls bounce back and forth between roles of legendary bandmates, just like musicians in a non-tribute band, and bizarre-o world parallels to a peculiar moment now inert in music history when men got dressed up like sexy ladies with big hair and tight pants and sang some of the most misogynistic songs ever."
Vanessa Albury | On Rachel Rampleman’s Girls Girls Girls | The Huffington Post | April 20, 2015
Zombie Portraits #6 #1 #7 #8 (2017)
My Real Baby 12.26 min. (2001)
REBEL REBEL stands for a woman’s right to find her own unique voice, own sexuality, feminine identity, and mysterious potential of her body while co-existing in this phallocentric world. Women are no longer raised to pretend not be disturbed by uncomfortable situations created by men. After decades of struggle and achievement in the personal, political and social fields, today’s young women tend to leave the post-feminist ideology of ‘we got it all’ behind in order to achieve success in professional, scientific, technological, athletic, and creative areas, and chase after their passions in personal life rather than being chained to nesting. Although today’s women are liberated enough to change the overall quality of their lives, there are still not enough men who share similar values to help create a balance in society and repair the patriarchy’s damage. The main reason why feminism partially failed in the hands of educated and liberated women was their intentional choice of ejecting men from any feminist discussion or action, and they simply could not adapt the feminist theories that they integrated into the practice of everyday life. Now, at the latest stage of the information age with advanced technological innovations, old social values are being replaced with questioning what it means to be human in the 21st century and seeking the possibilities of isolated individualities and online identities on virtual platforms where gender fluidity rules over social expectations.
Born and raised in the suburbs of the Midwest, Brooklyn-based multi-media artist Rachel Rampleman creates bodies of work that explore subjects like gender, artifice, and spectacle through the tinge of a very American lens. Part directorial, part curatorial, and part anthropological, she probes into oft-overlooked elements of American culture to reveal an expanded landscape of American life. Rampleman’s work often showcases exuberantly bold and irrepressible femme/female personalities who revel in challenging common clichés associated with masculinity and femininity, and who often assume roles typically associated with men. This is a landscape where sexual braggadocio, heavy-metal rock stardom, or hyper-muscularity have become characteristic of feminine prowess.
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and currently living and working in New York City, she received her MFA from New York University in 2006. Since then her work has been shown internationally at the Shanghai Biennale (Brooklyn Pavilion, 2012-13) in China, the Chennai Photo Biennale (India), JAM in Bangkok, Thailand, and throughout Europe at S.M.A.K. (Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst) and Art Cinema OFFoff (Ghent, Belgium), Monte Arts Centre (Antwerp, Belgium), C/O Berlin, Die Fruhperle, and The Secret Cabinet (Berlin, Germany), and at VIDEONALE.16 at the Kunstmuseum Bonn.
Nationally, her work has been exhibited at such venues as Socrates Sculpture Park, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Cleopatra’s, Petzel Gallery, Smack Mellon, Auxiliary Projects, The Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Frank Institute at CR10, Spectacle Theater, The Wassaic Project, Flux Factory, VOX Bizarre, Cynthia Broan Gallery, NP Contemporary Art Center, Squeaky Wheel, Envoy Enterprises, Shoestring Press, The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, The Warehouse Gallery, SELECT Art Fair, The Last Brucennial, un(SCENE) Art Show, 80 WSE Gallery, Gowanus Swim Society, El Puente CADRE, Art Gotham, Rosenburg Gallery, Cantor Film Center, The Arts Center of the Capital Region, and Collar Works (New York), Paul Robeson Galleries at Rutgers University (New Jersey), Other Cinema at Artists' Television Access (California), The Wexner Center for the Arts, The Contemporary Arts Center, The Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts, Thunder-Sky, Inc., The Mini Microcinema, Semantics, and SS NOVA, (Ohio), KMAC Museum Louisville, The Lexington Art League, The Fountain Gallery at Purdue University (Kentucky), 1506 Projects (Washington), University Hall Gallery at UMass Boston (Massachussetts), Icebox Project Space (Philadelphia), PULSE Miami (Florida), The Flint Art Institute, (Michigan), The Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University and The Andy Warhol Museum (Pennsylvania).
Rampleman recently had solo exhibitions on view at VOLTA NY (New York), These Things Take Time (Ghent, Belgium), 42 Social Club (Connecticut), Carl Solway Gallery and The Neon Heater Art Gallery (Ohio), as well as an early career retrospective at The Center for Exploratory and Perceptual Art (CEPA Gallery) in Buffalo, New York. She is currently preparing for upcoming screenings and exhibitions at The Weston Art Gallery in the Aronoff Center for the Arts (Ohio), Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College (North Carolina), Louden House (Kentucky), and Anthology Film Archives (New York).
She has also created curatorial projects with Vanessa Albury as The Sun That Never Sets for venues such as The Frank Institute at CR10 in the Hudson Valley and SPRING/BREAK Art Show in NYC. Rachel’s work has been reviewed in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Art F City, Paper Magazine, Artnet, DRAIN, Domino, eyes toward the dove, HYPERALLERGIC, Gothamist, Berlin Art Parasites, the Fanzine, Seattle Pi, Absolute Arts, ÆQAI, and LeCool Bangkok, among others.