Contre vents et marées

Miguel Rothschild
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Miguel Rothschild focuses on the tragic and beautiful moments of life. He is attracted by the chasm between our childlike delight in everything bright and beautiful and the tools we clumsily use to appease our torment when hit by personal misfortune. For this subject matter, Rothschild often refers to the Bible. In Against Wind and Tides, he merges familiar metaphors of the sea from the Great Flood as a punishment for the sin of mankind to the Romantic view of an endless expanse of water as a mirror of our emotions. Rothschild works from his own photographs, stretching their two-dimensionality into playful trompe l’oeil dramatizations.

One of Rothschild’s established methods of expanding his photographs into space uses nylon fishing line: stretched and multiplied, it can embody the golden rays of the holy ghost or look like drizzling rain; hanging loosely, it may suggest the long flowing hair of Mary Magdalene, but also a rush of tears bursting out of the image. In Untitled. After William Turner, a stretch of thin fabric printed with a photograph of the sea is suspended from a myriad of various lengths of nylon thread, turning the image into a physical model of a rough ocean. In a piece that has given the show its title, Rothschild punches circular holes of different sizes into the sea foam. The resulting confetti are collected at the bottom of the frame like solidified raindrops that have fallen out of the water. At the same time, the abstract pattern of the holes teases our eyes and the foam becomes a kind of creeping sea creature come up from the depths.

Transformations of a seascape are also implemented by the glass in front of the photograph: in Overseas, ingeniously cracked safety glass evokes the sea’s potential violence, but at the same time, the breakage in the thick glass infatuatingly gleams, suggesting the thrill of light on water. In Fenêtre, a stormy sky is framed behind rippled acrylic glass, turning the idea of heavenly danger into one of a depressing outbreak of pouring rain.

The titles help us relate to the artist’s twist between tragedy and comedy, melancholy and his essential optimism. Rothschild presents a buoyant synthesis of his cultural connotations associated with seascapes. The contrast between the rank of the statement and the humility of the method, between high and low, makes us smile and reflect on our means to overcome emotional pain.

Helen Adkins, Berlin

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