Sarada Rauch: In The Realm of a Dying Star
In considering the relationship between music and visual art, it seems unfortunate that prog rock (sometimes even called art rock) has garnered such a bad reputation. The wonderful idea of the “concept album” is the baby that was thrown out with that particular bath water. Why shouldn’t we be listening to music and seeing video that has a message, a point of view, or even a train of thought beyond “that model looks so hot on the dance floor”? Then again, 70s prog rock was always a dude scene. And not just in the bands, but in the audiences as well. Of course there is the singularity of Kate Bush, but that’s about it for big name lady prog rockers. There is lost terrain here to mine. What could a woman’s voice add to the concept album? How do you even best present a concept album? Maybe in an art gallery? Let’s go.
Approaching four decades on this planet, I quite naturally felt shitty about myself as a woman that age in general and being in the art hustle in particular. I wondered what could be worse, and realized that dropping my first album as a 40 year old woman would totally do it. So I created some instruments out of rubber bands, dusted off my guitar, and recorded an album. Being unable to stop image hustling, this of course became an album of music videos. In the realm of a dying star marks the release of Side B of this album and combines music, protest and art.
As the daughter of an activist, I was bred on direct action. Protest songs are driven by their content, they are accessible and urgent. I feel an urgency right now that I cannot satiate with my art alone. Artists have often embraced the “craft” of a medium, or used popular culture to blur the boundaries between high/low and folk/elite and expand the medium. In the same way that pottery is used in sculpture or fabric arts are used in painting, I consider music videos as the “craft” of video art. Working with music videos is my attempt to expand the conversation into direct action, and widen boundaries of accessibility.
Sarada Rauch’s music videos are spare, low-fi and chaotic, combining post-internet visual mashups with soft-spoken clarity and sincerity. Rauch’s music comes directly from cultures in her ethnic and cultural background—Bengali Hindu, 90’s east LA punk and Sicilian-Romani (Gypsy). Rauch makes no effort to hide the low tech in the high tech and invites the viewer into the world she creates, but like most consciousness, it is all a poorly made illusion. Anger–political, social, cultural, personal–is expressed quietly but with fiery intensity, and the accompanying visual references bend toward the absurd.
Rauch’s humor tends to the dark: in one case, the music video this is what it feels like in the end explores the residue after the demise of the human species. In it, a digital fire sweeps smoothly across mountains in the background in the shape of the waveform of the song, the fire’s progress tracing that of the song. In all, the exhibition features ten music videos created and performed by Rauch over the past 2 years.
Auxiliary Projects is pleased to present in the realm of a dying star, a solo exhibition by Sarada Rauch, on view from September 22 – November 11, 2018. There will be an opening reception on Saturday, September 22, from 6-8pm. Rauch will host a karaoke performance in the gallery at 7pm on October 26, 2018.