KELAN GILL: On Cold Sweat

by Kelan Gill (Student at Kalamzoo College) on Feb 21, 2016

The Takedown,  Athletic mat, acrylic, vinyl tape, 2016 Photo by PD Rearick

The Takedown, Athletic mat, acrylic, vinyl tape, 2016
Photo by PD Rearick

Rebhuhn’s work is simultaneously referential and abstract, welcoming and alienating, due to her juxtaposing utilization of readymade and recognizable forms.  Her January exhibition, Cold Sweat, takes day-to-day items and reimagines their relationships and identities—stripped of their original functions, the objects take on new life, inviting the viewer to explore the multiplicity of their connections.

Inorganic forms comprised of few different colors dot the room, evoking comparisons to minimalism.  The limited color pallet and smooth geometry of the pieces makes them feel clinical at first glance, but the associations and personalities of Rehbuhn’s constructions breathe life into the room.  The Takedown is teeming with energy.  The piece is balanced by its symmetry, but tension lies between its elements.  The lightswitch is commandingly dormant, projecting its status downward to the mat.  Typically a place of movement, the mat is literally and conceptually stunted as it loses its use.  It instead becomes a plate for the switch to lie on, turning the floor to ceiling and drawing attention to the work’s large scale. 

Contrasting the size of The Takedown, Pass The Potatoes (On The Left Hand Side) stands planar, watching over the space.  The original use of the lunch tray is distorted and its transformation to wing mirror is done seamlessly with stainless steel.  Continuing the show’s theme of non-function, the tray reflects a distorted image and cannot be viewed from the driver’s perspective—the construction is as conventionally useless as its components. 

Soak is similarly paradoxical.  Leaning relaxed against the wall, the form’s physicality resembles an ice pack and hot tub, but its arrangement ensures it is competent at neither role.  Unable to hold water and in an environment where it cannot freeze, Soak becomes an abstract form, attention drawn to the material and functional similarities of its opposite parts.  Rebhuhn again achieves a free-flowing, associative work that can appear as each of its roles equally but function as neither.   

Twofold reimagines the cafeteria folding table as a gambling ground, drawing attention to the similarities they share.  While both facilitate verbal interactions and are currency driven—social or literal—their tones contradict each other.  The table is painted to appear as an actual gambling space, but its seats and seams render it casual.  The contrasting elements showcase alternate uses for the same object, and the differing table positions mirror the effect.  Although the folded tabletop is unusable its chairs face upright in defiance; another number of narrative possibilities permeates the piece. 

Cold Sweat is a dream, as recognition loses its connotations and we lose our preconceived notions of function.  The works stand independent but conceptually unified, and their lack of a concrete voice makes the viewer’s projections of meaning equally relevant.  The show calmly confronts the concepts of common items while allowing room for any number of explanations. 

See images from the exhibition


Posted on February 21, 2016 .