Rebecca Moss: Absurd Enables Me to Hold Up the Rules as Ridiculous
London-based artist. Studied Painting at the Camberwell College of Arts and Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Exhibited her work in England, China, and Ukraine. Was shortlisted for Future Generation Art Prize. Her work will be on exhibition at the Venice Biennale in May 2017.
The media call you the artist absurd, but how would you describe yourself?
The absurd and the surreal are intrinsically connected to rules and structures, and I think a big reason I enjoy exploring them is because it enables me to kick against these rules or hold them up as ridiculous.
Are the absurd and ridiculous your way of processing shit that is happening in the world with the help of humor?
I definitely think I process difficult situations, and feelings, through humor. I like to create situations that oscillate between something amusing and something very serious. But I’m also interested in how humor can empower weak positions against overwhelming forces and systems.
What are your videos about?
In each video, I construct a situation where I am looking for ways to create equivocal relationships between my body and the props and environments that surround it. I want to collapse a heroic tendency I often perceive in art and literature about humanity’s relationship to the natural world. I draw on slapstick physical comedy to suggest a political position that is soft, open, vulnerable and embodied. I’m also interested in small gestures that can collapse and disrupt monumentality: there is something attractive about the tiny pin that pops a big inflated balloon. The female body and sexuality have historically been, and continue to be, aligned with the status of the animal across the world in law and culture. The works where I interact with, or dress up as, animals, are an exploration into autonomy, agency, wildness, and control.
How do people react to your works?
The response has so far been positive.
Tell us a little about your experience with that container ship please. What was the idea of that trip and what happened there?
I set sail on an art residency between Vancouver and Shanghai on a container ship last year, and a week into the trip, it was announced that the company Hanjin had gone bankrupt. This meant I ended up anchored off of the coast of Japan for three weeks, without a clue when I would get back to land. Effectively, I got stuck at sea.
Do you create anything else except video?
Video seems to be the richest way to explore my concerns at the moment, but I have made large scale sculptural installations before.
How did you start to make these videos? Which was the first one?
The first was High Tide (Sausage). I had an idea I would make a series of work that would interact with high and low tides. The orange balloon behaved in an extraordinary way, making that noise and whizzing off downstream, the first time I tried it, and it excited me so much it has led to everything afterwards.
Do you know any other artists who work in the same style?
Many. But I also draw a lot of inspiration from comedy series, such as Monty Python, Jackass, Green Wing, and Smack the Pony.
Are you a funny or a sad person yourself?
I think both.
Why do you think people should see your works?
I want people to be provoked, amused, and emotionally moved.
All works by Rebecca Moss are available on her website.