Rochelle Feinstein


Rochelle Feinstein


Campoli Presti's fifth entry of Logbook is dedicated to the work of Rochelle Feinstein. HOTSPOTS features an essay and a 12-part painting installation by Rochelle Feinstein, which she began in 2003 to mark the American-led invasion of Iraq and continued for each year the U.S. maintains a military presence in the Middle East until 2014. The globe forms covered in half-tone dots conspicuously resemble disco balls – which layer a reoccurring culture reference in Feinstein’s work and suggest a multitude of dissonant meanings. Their virtuality is offset by the visual slowness of the dutifully hand-made. The old-media halftone dots in the palette of CMYK, colours subtracted from “white” light are effectively grounding the technological, social and political in the physicality of paint.

I write while inhabiting the HOTSPOT of NYC June 5, 2020. My cellphone just alerted, “…8:00 pm curfew is in effect in Manhattan south of 96thSt….” What follows here is background for HOTSPOTS (2003-2014).

In 2006, Andrea Blum and Bruce Yonemoto and I, went to the Rose Science Center at the Hayden Planetarium, to see the new IMAX show, known as the Big Bang show, but correctly called Cosmic Collisions. My first visit to the Planetarium was as a 2nd grader. I vividly recall the dome, the reclining seats, the real-time narration read by a non-actor; a man with (what was then) a familiar NY accent. We were asked to fasten our seat belts, but I may be imagining this detail. I have a clear memory of terror, of trembling at the sights and sounds of the impact event that created our galaxy. Six decades ago, that was popularly termed The BIG BANG, long debunked as a theory, but still lingua franca.

From 2003-2005, I’d immersed myself in a project entitled I Made A Terrible Mistake. Foregoing tedious exposition of this project, I’ll say that the inevitability of making mistakes, inspired by Michael Jackson, provoked my interest. The disco ball’s reflected light offered a possible sanctuary; freedom from those mistakes for outliers, whether in the pre-AIDS '70s club scene, or as a standard accessory in Evangelical Christian DJ gigs of the early-oughts.
I fully committed to making deliberate, material, “terrible mistakes” in my work - as many as possible - in paintings and moving image. These were proposed as impossible installations for spaces that could neither accommodate nor comprehend why this might be a worthwhile enterprise. Those works were eventually exhibited in 2009.

Consistent with the notion of this “universal” redemptive object, I made the first HOTSPOT painting in 2003, occasioned by US bombardment of Fallujah. I put it away as lacking context; as merely sufficient in marking an event but without more traction. Fast forward to 2006, experiencing the IMAX Cosmic Collision laser show, the digitally spectacle of a cataclysmic event, that of an asteroid entering our solar system, “impact event”, reconnected me to the HOTSPOT painting. While many theories of extinction events are proposed, and the location-dating varies, agreement is certain: impact events result in extinction. But I abbreviate here...

I returned to the single painting made in 2003, and it grew. HOTSPOTS became a 12-part group of works marking many Hotspots: endemics, wars, climate disasters, and continuing with the US presence in the Middle East. The multiple definitions of a Hotspot: Wi-Fi access-point, a lens flare in a photo, a point of intense heat or radiation, a popular night spot, a site of political upheaval and currently as a locator the current pandemic “hotspots” continues this trajectory of almost 22 years of crisis. Suggesting a multitude of dissonant meanings, the tesserated forms dutifully hand-made as halftone dots, a system of old-media reproduction, rendered in CMYK, meshing the technological, social and political to touch, in a palette alternating from hot to cool, from open to closed. Each globe tilts off-axis, rendered in half-tone dots and conspicuously resembling the perhaps multitude of dissonant meanings. Dissonance is such a familiar condition I felt the necessity to make that explicit. After making 12 HOTSPOTS (2003 – 2014), I stopped, realizing this is an infinite condition. The ellipses are both what is left out and what is understood. It doesn’t need to be said. - Rochelle Feinstein