Whitney Biennial 2012

Solo en Inglès

This audio guide allows visitors to hear directly from artists as they discuss the thoughts, processes, and ideas behind their work in the 2012 Whitney Biennial exhibition.

Elaine Reichek (b. 1943), _Ariadne’s Lament_, 2009 (detail). Digital embroidery on linen, 27 1/2 x 26 1/2 in. (69.9 x 67.3 cm). Collection of the artist. © Elaine Reichek; courtesy the artist; Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York; and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Santa Monica. Photograph by Paul Kennedy

ELAINE REICHEK: It's all tremendously organic, the way in which I work between technology, the hand, the eye, those are all included in the general practice.

NARRATOR: Artist Elaine Reichek.

I use machines really for everything, except there is one drawing in the Biennial which is just a kind of‑‑when I say drawing, I mean drawing with thread‑‑in which I just look at the image and sit in front of it and make a drawing. For other works, I will scan an image, Google-shop an image, or take it from a book, or find an online source for it, and then work it through Photoshop and put it through a program which converts each stitch, each pixel to a square. And it gives you a chart, which is color-coded. It's a long translation process. And then from the coded chart I will hand-embroider something.

NARRATOR: These works come from a series called Ariadne’s Thread. The title is drawn from the story of a Greek mythic heroine who experiences love, despair, and ecstasy—in no small part due to the actions she performs with Reichek’s main material, thread.

It's a discredited material that drags a great deal of baggage with it. I use it naturally, it's just my medium. And you're not hindered by your medium. You're simply saying "I use an old medium which has a long history, longer than painting. You know, Eve sews a little fig leaf for them [laughs] when they leave the garden. So it has a long history. And it has politics embedded in it. The politics of cloth, the politics of thread, Gandhi spins a revolution. Cloth has been used as money. It was taken on the Crusades. It has all these really—indigenous embroidery, national embroidery—it has all these really interesting kind of real-world connections.

I'm interested in the hand and the anxiety between handmade work and—there's a kind of anxiety about technology. Every new surge of technology has been associated with a great deal of anxiety. Certainly today we all fantasize we're going to end up with big heads and no hands, or big heads and hands and no body.