PRINT September 2022


EARLIER THIS YEAR, Artforum invited the artist Rachel Rose to create a project for the magazine’s sixtieth-anniversary issue. In the ensuing months, she photographed hazy vistas during hikes in upstate New York. Rose inserted into each of the images a dark orb, infusing her dreamy pastorals with supernatural disquiet.

The orbs are a signature, too, in her recent film Enclosure, 2019, which takes up the Enclosure Acts—a legislative process beginning in sixteenth-century England that expropriated the country’s common land, laying the groundwork for the agricultural and industrial revolutions. At the work’s New York debut at Gladstone Gallery, Rose also exhibited canvases inspired by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century landscape painters—from Samuel Palmer to Thomas Gainsborough—juxtaposing the orb with arcadian terrain.

Rose’s film, and her images here, draws a line from the early privatization of land to the inauguration of modern capitalism and its vast ecological transformations, as well as to art’s role in reifying and contesting this shift. Is the sphere in her gauzy horizon an ominous aperture, or does it signal a more auspicious alchemy, a synthesis of the worldly and the empyreal? So many views of this sunless sky, yet the orb, mute and beautiful, discloses nothing.

David Velasco