Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
A striking voice in contemporary art, Rachel Rose creates video installations that ruminate on our image-saturated culture and histories of the past. She is the first recipient of the Future Fields Commission in Time-Based Media, which supports innovative new work in video, film, performance, and sound by emerging artists. For her commissioned video, Wil-o-Wisp, Rose trains her lens on a tumultuous moment in history: England in the 1500s.
Wil-o-Wisp explores how the practice of magic and coincidence influence the fate of a woman named Elspeth Blake. Rose frames her story against the backdrop of England’s Enclosure Movement, which privatized communal land and spurred violent upheavals in agrarian life.
Rose models the chapters of Elspeth’s life after accounts of healers persecuted for their practices, which were considered deviant and threatening within increasingly regulated society. Weaving together the harsh realities of the rural English landscape with ghostly sprites and the ethereal forces of magic, Rose questions how our perceptions of the world, and of others, can so radically change within the fluctuating norms of society and the seismic shifts of history.
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Image: Still from Wil-o-Wisp, 2018, by Rachel Rose (American, born 1986), Single-channel video with unique installation. Jointly commissioned and owned by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo. Funding is made possible for the Philadelphia Museum of Art through the Contemporary Art Revolving Fund © Courtesy of Rachel Rose