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Sarah Rapson: Eastcliff

Wed Aug 1 – Fri 31 2012

Seattle Art Museum

Forum Gallery

As a filmmaker and mixed media artist, Sarah Rapson challenges us with persistent and lyrical questions about the making of art.

Eastcliff was filmed at West Bay in Dorset, England and shows the artist restlessly filling a suitcase with sand. The growing weight makes it increasingly harder, and nearly impossible, to move the suitcase, close it, and drag it away. All efforts are threatened by the incoming tide which engulfs the artist, yet she manages to hold on. This film was inspired in part by a scene from a popular 1980s movie Camille Claudel, featuring the 19th century sculptor, who at one point fills a suitcase with roadside mud, then drags it back to her shack to use for clay. Claudel was a former student and assistant in August Rodin’s studio, who became his mistress for a time.

Navigating the market-driven contemporary art world, Sarah Rapson often muses on the Sisyphean futility of making art, or perhaps better put, the fervent devotion required to make art despite all odds. Ironically reflecting on her own years in New York, she recalls endlessly lugging art materials across town and quietly working away in her studio, which also informs Eastcliff. The existential and yet so ephemeral aspect of living as an artist is succinctly expressed in a recent email, where Rapson writes, “Bottom line: art and religion and rock and roll—same category."

–Catharina Manchanda, Jon & Mary Shirley Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art

Eastcliff, 2005, Sarah Rapson, British, born 1959, super-8 black and white film, two uncut reels transferred to DVD for continuous viewing, 6:18 min., camera: Julia Rapson de Pauley, © Sarah Rapson, Photo courtesy of the artist