30 Jul – 11 Sep 2011

The Shift

Rafaël Rozendaal

“For me a good artist is a magnifying glass: guiding sunlight into a focal point. If the artist does his/her job well, the focal point is sharp enough to start a fire.” — Rafael Rozendaal

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Wishing to reduce the world to its essence is both a feasible artistic approach and, at the same time, a ritual that appears to have no end. Reduction is indeed a recurring principle in the work of Rafael Rozendaal (born 1980 in Amsterdam), and is also his explicitly stated position. Initially, drawing was his medium: How many drawing strokes are necessary for reality to be recognisable as such? Does reality in this way perhaps reveal something new about its structure? And, influenced by the world of comics and cartoons, how can a story be captured in a minimum of images? “With a very specific language of exaggeration, simplification and abstraction,” he says, with the goal of making this action accessible in an intercultural and universal manner. Since 2000, Rafael Rozendaal’s works have mainly been internet-based. These works are websites for which he has reserved names such as itwillneverbethesame.com, intotime.com or muchbetterthanthis.com and which each present a single idea and its visual implementation in the form of a graphic film that occupies the entire website. In these films, a jelly pudding wobbles, colour sequences become fluid, or a stylised kiss is repeated over and over: Time seems to stand still, but nonetheless everything remains in motion. A small, minimal click is generally required to start off the action, or else the motion follows that of the user’s finger on the trackpad.

By including the observer in this way, Rafael Rozendaal creates situations that refine the representative relationship between action and reaction on the Internet, a relationship which is governed by no law other than that of self-confirmation. This self-righteousness thus celebrates the oft-claimed infinite nature of this medium. Rafael Rozendaal succeeds here in such an unerring manner that he has long since established himself as a pop-culture brand on the net in his own right. Faithfully following the Warhol tradition in many regards, he is able to exploit this brand in a commercial manner and to make this a part of his works at the same time. The websites can be acquired by art collectors, whose name is then entered in the title bar at the top. Recently, he made a certificate for imitators available on his website. He markets some of his ideas as applications for smartphones, while preserving the inherent logic of these works. For him, this means retaining his independence and being able to survive outside of conventional support mechanisms for art.

Producing the effect of infinity with minimal equipment and effort – the exhibition at W139 attempts to allow the observer to experience the exhibition space as an interface and himself as a committed user. W139 also presents a selection from Rozendaal’s work.

Rafaël Rozendaal

Born 1980, Dutch-Brazilian, lives and works everywhere. Rafaël Rozendaal is a visual artist who uses the internet as his canvas. His artistic practice consists of websites, installations, drawings, and writing. Spread out over a vast network of domain names, he attracts a large online audience, over 12 million unique visits per year. Besides One Question Interviews he also created BYOB - Bring Your Own Beamer an open source DIY curatorial format that is spreading across the world rapidly. Great grandfather: Humberto Castello Branco, former president of Brazil.

Selected exhibitions: Venice Biennial, Valencia Biennial, Moca Taipei, Casa Franca Brasil Rio, TSCA Gallery Tokyo (solo), Spencer Brownstone Gallery NYC (solo), NIMk Amsterdam (solo), Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam (solo). Selected press: Flash Art, Purple Magazine, Dazed & Confused, Interview Magazine, Wired Magazine, O Globo. www.newrafael.com

Also listen to: Red Light Radio