Creative Clique: Jennifer Rubell

Art | Jan 2015 | BY Alyssa Shelasky

Jennifer Rubell has been creating Insta-worthy moments before such a thing existed. Her (very) large-scale art installations made from, say, 1,573 handmade Chinese egg custard tarts (Art Basel Miami Beach, 2013) garner praise from collectors, critics and culinary geniuses alike, who take part in her experiential artwork with glee and gusto.
Rubell, in her own words, “creates participatory artwork that is a hybrid of performance art, installation, sculpture and happenings.” Her pieces can be staggeringly huge, subtly or not-so-subtly sensual and dripping with sometimes-twisted humor (or chocolate, or honey), but they are always meant to awaken something—be it terribly dark or refreshingly light—inside us.
Notable projects include Engagement (2011), where she produced a lifelike wax sculpture of Prince William, mid-engagement announcement, welcoming guests to slide their arms inside his and slip on “the ring,” and Portrait of the Artist (2013), an interactive sculpture based on a three-dimensional surface scan of her body, which was performed in her studio when she was eight months pregnant. The latter is part of an ongoing series of works that explore feminine life stages—the private stuff—which are normally excluded from the documentation of an artist’s life.
In a new ongoing series, Rubell collaborates with painter Brandi Twilley under the name “Brad Jones” to create oil-on-canvas portraits of herself naked. For months, the duo met three times a week in Rubell’s Brooklyn studio, where she sat motionless for two hours at a time. (The first installment of the series, “Diptychs,” was on view last month at Sargent’s Daughters gallery in New York.)
In November, Rubell roared once again at Performa’s 10th anniversary celebration where she installed hanging paprika-filled rubber chickens (to garnish deviled eggs) and boys in backless chaps serving a suckling pig. She’s also director of food performance at the smash-hit “Queen of the Night” at the Diamond Horseshoe and celebrated her annual art brunch during Art Basel Miami Beach with a very personal edible installation, 50 Cakes, at the Rubell Family Collection, honoring her parents, Don and Mera Rubell, on their 50th wedding anniversary.

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