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Natural Ghost and the Specter of Memory Nothing can be hidden from the dead and they can't help us though they must weep for us. --Wolf: A False Memoir by Jim Harrison ---//--Grasping a pot of paint and a stick-extended brush in hand, The Artist trudges up the hill nearly every day, over the span of a year, in order to confront the specter. In the summer he must tangle with full foliage and dense undergrowth to reach his mark. By winter, the gentle slope has transformed into a treacherous traverse of ice and snow. Either way, these deterrents generated by the seasonal cycle of life and death only serve as fickle elements of process—intermittent problems to be overcome, resolved. The grey ghost rises from the treeline, as if excavated from the landscape itself, and smiles its broad massive head toward the heavens, scanning the skies for the pulses and waves that at one time provided a purpose. Years, perhaps decades, have passed since the last signal was sent. Despite this lapse, the stolid sentinel maintains an atavistic stance, as if to defy its inherent obsolescence. Each visit by The Artist is enacted ritually. Each mark is made with reverence. With each occasion, the application of words written in white further obscures this technological totem, blurring the boundaries of the ghost and its environs. Slowly over time, its face grows pallid and wan, this once proud form dissipating into a phantasmal mist. ---//--The Natural Ghost in question is a long defunct C-band satellite dish marketed for residential use in the United States during the 1980's. At the time, this technology was the sole conduit to the burgeoning world of cable and pay-per-view television, and provided clear network broadcasts, which would otherwise be inaccessible in many rural areas of the country. The dish in question was purchased by The Artist's grandmother some time around 1981 and installed on her property in North Manheim Township, Pennsylvania. It was here that The Artist, who grew up in the area, was first exposed to the wide world of televised popular culture. Perfect timing, considering the deregulation brought about by the 1984 Cable Act, which stimulated the development of televised programming to unprecedented levels. ---//--Its face, once grey and noble, had held forth against the ravages of climate and time, and only recently commenced to reveal the telltale signs of advancing years. A corner of paint chipped away. Spiderwebs of rust developing around its edges. As is the case with most entities, the loss of purpose begets the process of aging. This once proud figure, which had served as the channeler of messages from the firmament, was now firmly grounded on a temporal stage.


As with any ghost, one must wonder why it insists on imposing its presence upon us. Is it a lack of awareness that it no longer has a role in the sentient world? Or is it so glaringly aware of its own demise that it must return to a remembered home to seek the solace of a familiar place? In this case, the ghost should have been exorcised long ago, after its tether to televised translation had been severed. Leaving it to haunt the woods for all these years was some form of cruel purgatory. Who knows what transpires in the mind of a ghost? Perhaps it still feels the radio signals dance on its face the way the living feel the summer sun on their skin. Perhaps it is unaware that after that fleeting sensation there is no after, no purpose. ---//--The Artist returned to Pennsylvania as an adult after years spent away living in the city, first Baltimore, then New York. Having lived his young life the same as many of his generation: pursuing dreams, women, knowledge, inebriation, enlightenment and ultimately art, he returned to his homestead to forge a life on the land of his ancestors. His grandmother had passed away. He would live in her house with his new bride. Most of the surrounding land, once cultivated by his family for holiday pine trees, had long since been leased to local farming interests. The main barn, however, remained with the family, and he was intent on making it his own. Transitioning the space from agricultural use to artist studio served as an interesting parallel to the shift from industry to artistry to gentrified hell he had experienced in Bushwick. In this case there was little chance of an organic bodega or twee coffee shop popping up around the corner, for he now lived in a land devoid of corners. In the cavernous space of the antiquated barn, shared begrudgingly with serpents and bats, The Artist began working at a scale unimaginable in his former Brooklyn studio where the size of paintings had been held in check by their environs. It was as if his entire practice had been liberated from a constrictive planter, placed into the fertile earth and allowed to grow in size, as well as scope. He devoted increasing periods of time to the barn, experimenting with interactive objects, installations and assemblage sculptures. Every day he walked the ground from home to barn and back and passed the giant dish peering down from its perch on the hill. Might as well be a dusty relic in a museum considering its ineffectualness, but there it lived, an anachronistic arbor amongst the flora and fauna. This thing had a purpose at one point, a history. It had been alive and fed his mind when he was a child. Was it meant to just exist there for all eternity? Imperceptibly decaying over generations of humanity, like his own ancestral Angkor Wat? The Artist knew something must be done... ---//--Nothing is haunted and sentiment is a lid I don't need to manage the present. --Wolf: A False Memoir by Jim Harrison essay by: Brian C. Balderston


Lance Rautzhan (born. 1974 in Pottsville, PA) is a multidisciplinary artist whose primary practice is painting. He studied Social Theory and Philosophy at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He moved to Long Island City, Queens in 1997 to study acting under Catherine Russell and make small works on paper. In 1999, Rautzhan took a large studio in Baltimore, MD where he would go on to cultivate his body of work and exhibit heavily for 6 years. After securing gallery representation in Baltimore, Rautzhan moved his studio to Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2006. He would continue to work in Brooklyn until conceding to gentrification in 2014. Rautzhan’s work has been exhibited (Baltimore - Gallery 211, Subbasement, SchiavoneEdward, New York - Freight & Volume, Present Company, Eastern District, Provincetown DNA Gallery, and with Freight & Volume at Pulse Miami 2010 and 2012), collected and published internationally. In 2013, he was chosen for and completed a residency with DNA Gallery in Provincetown. His aesthetic influences include 70’s animation, avant-garde film, and Keith Richards. He values slow burning substance as a hallmark of intelligence in art. Currently, he works in a large barn in the Appalachian Mountains of rural Eastern Pennsylvania.


natural ghost - Lance Rautzhan  
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