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Orit Raff

Jul 12 - Aug 23, 2014

Press Release | download PDF

The loose framework for Orit Raff’s solo exhibition at LA><ART starts with the application of an undercoat or primer. In visual art contexts this is usually reserved for painting, when a canvas is prepared for oil paints. The word also refers to a primer given to a student on essential reading or a field of research they are about to enter. There is also the priming that makes smooth the surface of a wall or façade and lends brilliance to a surface. 


With the exhibition Priming Raff reverses the usual sense of the word; in the exhibition we enter psychological spaces after the artist has read and designed interiors based on novels. The settings are not built environments, nor are they actual photos. The various rooms seen in the gallery are untouched by the real world. Yet we may sense we are in the realm of literature, the titles of artworks correspond to books. Though the authors are not listed, titles impart impressions of Henry James, Gustave Flaubert, Amos Oz, Scarlett Thomas, Michel Houellebecq, Marisha Passl, Donna Tartt and others. For example, specters that Henry James had haunt The Turn of the Screw could occupy the dark Victorian stairway Raff has composed; in another an upholstered leather chair paired with a long desk sits unoccupied either before or after Michel Houellebecq’s protagonist in The Map and the Territory has met his fate. In the spaces pictured Raff connects the experience of reading with the fabrication of her artwork. As cinematic adaptations of novels often confirm, images do not bring literature to life. Rather, literary space is best left to the imagination. Raff’s approximations reinforce that fact.

Though it is suggested, there is no story set before us; there is no camera and no device has captured the room. Each is a primer for literary experience that Raff created using 3D technology befitting science fiction. What we see is the antimatter of digital imagery, spliced together in a virtual realm and printed to locate more or less familiar worlds.


Priming is an exercise in co-optation, therefore, imposing artistic choice upon narrative. Here the duplicity of the photographic image meets the real story of private readership. It is not the author’s world we are privy to. This act of completion that supplants authorship shares a modicum of creativity always implied by readership. Though meaning is surely lost in the act of translation it also adds meaning in these delicate approximations. Priming does not move between foreign words but between incongruous worlds. In that exercise of priming it replaces the book-object with the hermetic imprint of the artwork.

Orit Raff attended Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design in Jerusalem, graduated cum laude from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and participated in the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art from 1998-1999. In 2003, she completed an MFA at Bard College. Raff's work has been exhibited widely in Europe, Israel, and the United States in solo exhibitions such as; “Priming,” The Tel-Aviv Museum of Art in 2013, “Insatiable,” Cutting Edge Project at ARCO’03, Madrid in 2003 and “Dynamic Equilibrium,” SITE Santa Fe Satellite exhibition in 2002. Recent Group exhibitions include “Videosphere: A New Generation” at the Albright-Knox, Buffalo, NY in 2011, “True North” at the Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin in 2008, “Glasskultur: What became of Transparence?”, Centre d'Art la Panera and Koldo Mitxelena Museum, Spain in 2006. Raff worked with LA><ART Director Curator Lauri Firstenberg in 2002 for Multitude at Artists Space, New York. Her work is part of major collections such as: CU Art Museum, University of Colorado at Boulder, Albright-Knox, Buffalo, NY, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX, Tel-Aviv Museum of Art, Tel-Aviv, Israel. The artist is represented by Julie Saul Gallery, New York.

Nir Evron and Orit Raff's programs were made possible with the generous support of The Artis Grant Program; The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation; Consulate General of Israel; Michael Hittleman Trust.