Ry Rocklen: Pixievision, Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, Ojai
By Debra Herrick
Ojai’s spunky mandarin variety—the pixie—gets a little extra sun this season from LA-based sculptor Ry Rocklen, artist in residence at the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation.
Since the ‘70s, the pixie has gone from backyard fruit to quintessential Ojai, now dotting more than fifty of the valley’s family farms with the ubiquitous sweet glimmer of orange.
Rocklen’s mixed media study of the pixie joins the artist’s ongoing series, Food Group, and features a commissioned video (clip below) and stoneware cast iterations. The conceptual piece also includes an upcoming public performance of a person wearing a life-size pixie costume. The person-in-costume will then be reproduced in miniature at the original size of the pixie via 3-d printing.
In “Pixievision,” the short film, digital renderings of the pixie intercept hand-held meanderings in the farmer’s market. The pixie’s technological reproductions move from technical, to comical, to grotesque.
“Pixievision” is a burst of pop art for late capitalism and the digital age. It critiques consumption while paying homage to agricultural history. The work proliferates representation while pleasuring with unexpected forms of reproduction.
Size matters for Rocklen. His pixie is enlarged and shrunk throughout the study as he makes copies from copies in new media.
The stoneware cast pixies that are true to size are elegant minimalist sculptures. A Rocklen pixie rests in the bookshelf, on the table, small, light and unintimidating. On the other hand, the life-size pixie costume performance promises to be absurd and ham-handed, drawing the peculiar pena ajena (cringe) that adults in food costumes generally garner.
It’s not just form that Rocklen manipulates, but pleasure and discomfort.
“What seemingly begins as a playful nod to local,” said CGBF Executive Director and Curator Freddy Janka, “has become a formal indexical investigation through a myriad of shapes and forms provided by the pixie.”
To be sure, Rocklen has squeezed quite a bit of juice from the pixie.
“Ry Rocklen in Residence: Pixievision” is on view July 1 to Sept. 19, 2018 at the Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation, 248 S. Montgomery St., Unit A, Ojai.