Galerie Lelong & Co., New York, is pleased to present Rhe: everything flows; a group exhibition held in collaboration with Galleries Curate: RHE, an international contemporary art platform initiated by 21 galleries as a response to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. “Rhe,” from Greek for that which flows, centers on the theme of water: its essential significance to life, as a bridge between people and cultures, and its status under threat from climate change. A platform with ongoing projects through May 2021, RHE is coordinated by Clément Delépine, independent curator, writer, and co-director of Paris Internationale.
For its contribution, Galerie Lelong will present works by Petah Coyne, Ficre Ghebreyesus, Andy Goldsworthy, Jane Hammond, Alfredo Jaar, Rosemary Laing, Cildo Meireles, Ana Mendieta, Jaume Plensa, Carolee Schneemann, Kate Shepherd, Michelle Stuart, Juan Uslé and Catherine Yass. The exhibition will encompass artworks in a myriad of media that reflect the contextual underpinnings of water through film, painting, photography, and performance art pieces, including the actual physical presence of water in mixed-media works.
Water is a resource with geo-political dimensions. In Alfredo Jaar’s Untitled (Water) E (1990), an image of a turbulent ocean conceals the face of a Vietnamese refugee on the other side, revealed through five strategically placed mirrors that implicate the viewer in the global refugee crisis.
Laing’s photograph of a cascade comprising discarded refugees’ clothes on an actual dried riverbed speaks to the dual climate and refugee crisis in Australia. The use of gold as a precious metal in Meireles’s Aquaruum (2015) references the scarcity of water for the population in Brazil, a country that supplies 12% of the world’s freshwater.
The performative and immersive aspects of Mendieta and Schneemann’s practices are expressed within their documentational photography and works on paper. Mendieta made her silueta (silhouette) in diverse natural landscapes “to establish her ties to the universe” as in her film Silueta de Arena (1978) where her body, portrayed in sand, is gently ebbed away by the water.
A contemporary pioneer of performance art, Schneemann sought to depict a weightlessness of the body through the group performance Water Light/Water Needle (1966), with men and women interacting on suspended ropes in a gesture of collective dependency, a response to social and gender norms of the time.
Land artists Andy Goldsworthy and Michelle Stuart have dedicated decades of their career to meticulous observations of nature in situ. Goldsworthy has often investigated earth’s remarkable staining qualities and has worked for years with the iron-rich red earth and stone found near his home and studio. In Goldsworthy’s nine-minute film, a river stone that he has rubbed with red earth “bleeds” color into the water. Stuart’s suite of thirty-five photographs Mysterious Tidal Fault (2019) investigates the traces of humanity’s effects on nature through the change in tides. In the small gallery, Goldsworthy’s and Mendieta’s films are accompanied by the sound of an ongoing, rhythmic drip from Jaume Plensa’s intimate sculpture. Plensa’s Freud’s Children VII is part of a 25-component installation work where vessels of various sizes affixed with a sculpture of a body part (such as faces and hands) are connected by the drip of a pump that supplies and fills it with water, an arrangement akin to closed-blood circulation.
Displayed together in this exhibition, all of the artists dwell on the physical and at times politicized qualities of water, reflecting humanity’s unity in our need for the life-giving source yet our division in its care and distribution.