Rachel Rossin combines painting and virtual reality to create something deliciously disorienting. Rossin’s work first surfaced in 2015, when she was awarded a fellowship in virtual reality at the New Museum’s incubator, New Inc, but the artist has continued to maintain attention through her immersive environments. Her next projects include a solo show with Art in General in Riga, Latvia and a project with Artsy at Art Basel Miami Beach.
What teacher did you learn the most from in school? Janae Easton, Owen Mundy, Lilian Garcia-Roig or Teri Lindbloom. They were these saint-like people that thought about art differently – really valued it and that was a really controversial, almost radical departure from how I had grown up. It helped that painting classes were held in a decrepit church.
What was your first gallery experience? I was 16 visiting New York and had never seen art in person before. My mother (bless her), brought me to the Whitney. I remember cautiously approaching Kiki Smith’s wax figures like some sort of alert, shy animal. I hated them and I loved them because they were both repulsive and tender. These feelings kept competing and rolling over each other for the front of my mind.
If you could trade with anyone, who would it be? Bob Thompson.
Do you live with your own work? Would you? I do.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? My favorite piece of advice comes from my first NY roommate’s dad. He took us out for pizza when we were both very poor and when he had enough of my insisting on paying, he efficiently shut me down by saying “You know, Rachel, a part of being gracious is being able to receive things…” Oh.
Ode to Hans Ulrich Obrist, do you have any unrealized projects? I’d like to make these self-sufficient displays and roaming robot-sculptures. I want them to clamber about with their own autonomy and off of their own energy but I’d like them to be stupid. With some time, it would be nice to see them be more biologically-based, using something like DNA digital data storage.
How did you fund your first works?
I sold my car, held the typical abusive minimum-wage internships and heaps of freelance programming work.
When you aren’t in the studio, where are you? I like to hike but these days that’s not what I’m doing outside the studio. I’m usually asleep, working from home or with my best friend.
In your practice, what comes naturally to you and what do you have to force? I can sit at a problem for an awfully long time until I finish it…This becomes the problem too. The truth is, sometimes you really just need a break. The studio feels like gaming in this way.