In Rebis Rebus, Ryan M. Pfeiffer and Rebecca L. Walz present a group of collaborative drawings that investigate the mythological, art historical and interpersonal dimensions of the act of looking, evinced in the twin subjects of Marcel Duchamp’s Étant donnés and the Greek myth of Artemis and Actaeon. Placing these and other cultural materials in relation to one another—which the artists literally do in their alternately rough and delicate line drawings—reveals resonant connections: flesh unveiled, sacred landscapes, and desire’s consequences.
The duo’s work synthesizes their research into ancient art, historical erotica, and esoteric traditions in depictions of sexuality, symbol, death and transformation. Pfeiffer and Walz’s collaboration dissolves their separate individual identities into a new whole, a “third mind.” Only working on the drawings simultaneously, their arms criss-cross the sheets of paper with graphite, charcoal, erasers, and other drafting tools.
Further complicating the question of authorship, the artists regularly utilize strategies of both appropriation and automatism. Generally, Pfeiffer and Walz begin by quickly and loosely layering source imagery, and then responding to the thieved lineaments in an improvisational manner. The resulting pictures veer between perspectival and symbolic space, silent hieroglyphic frieze and dense depictions of orgiastic revelry, as well as faithfulness and irreverence in relation to the artists’ extensive archive of source materials.