Sentinel (Tears, Tears), (2020)
Rossin’s latest exhibition is a multi-room installation at Hamburg gallery, 14a Connection. The work combines traditional and New Media techniques, and questions how we differentiate technology and our bodies. In ecology, a sentinel is an animal or plant whose natural abilities are used to indicate danger. Rossin is deeply concerned about the environment and sees herself, and her work, serving as a warning of trouble ahead. You may have heard the phrase ‘sing like a canary’ when somebody reveals details of a crime. This cliché comes from the now obsolete practice of sending canaries into mines to detect toxic gases. In a tongue-in-cheek twist, Rossin taught canary birds to mimic dubstep, a modern and complex form of dance music, registering danger through syncopated beats.
The birds trill out the music of popular DJ Skrillex, mimicking a phone-based ‘tutor’ that is set up in the installation. The repetition of dubstep sounds is apparently similar to the register of bird-song. Rossin tutors the birds with the repetition of electronic music, simulating the natural learning experience, in a sense, ‘programming’ the birds to call out the danger to the audience, with electronic mimesis that echoes across the two floors of the exhibition.
Rose petals are strewn all over the floor, another sentinel, referring to the use of roses as a tester crop to test the PH of soil. Roses are sacrificed to our advantage, Rossin portrays this treatment by throw-away attitude by haphazardly scattering them throughout the exhibition.
Throughout the gallery’s four walls, Rossin hangs her Hologram Combines. These are abstract oil expressions of organic forms that recall feminine bodies, semi-covered with translucent holographic images. The embodied self is painted onto the canvas, in instinctive, rapid brushstrokes. Meanwhile, holograms of chains, hands clutching one another and animal spirits or ‘daemons’ float over the top, digitally rendered with an airbrush.
Speaking with Caleb Mathern of Chicago Journal, The Seen, Rossin refers to a fascination with the uncanny, which she conjures using portraiture and doubling, two techniques favoured by the surrealists a century ago. The ethereal digital images glow in ghostly purple and blue and form an uncomfortable juxtaposition with the painted abstract figures below. The disjuncture between technical and tradition gives the impression of some unintended revelation from the artist’s inner psyche.
Rossin created these works during the lockdown in Berlin and deliberately reminds us of the biological threat that overwhelms our everyday life. In an interview with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Rossin explains that she sees herself as a sentinel, sounding a catastrophic alarm to the public. Biological organisms are used as a technology to augment our lives but this relationship is precarious as they threaten to destroy us.