In/Between | A Rock and a Hard Place

On view at the Rice Media Center gallery September 6 - October 17, 2019

The Visual and Dramatic Arts department at Rice University is pleased to announce its first fall exhibition, In/Between | A Rock and a Hard Place: Visions from the Ghost World of how to Survive One's Sovereignty of Self Destruction in a Land We Assumed We Once Knew by Photography Lecturer Justin Raphael Roykovich. The opening reception will take place at the Rice Media Center Gallery on September 5, 2019 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Roykovich generally addresses one’s relationship to a site through time, connecting and documenting seen and un/seen occurrences. His work is about looking at those spaces as an InBetween site, one that is rapidly changing both socially and environmentally. While at these sites, he often experiences them through an adopted performance persona that he calls "The InBetween" - an extension of his physical self that moves through what we experience as reality. It explores that reality in a state that is neither here nor there as it slips, shuffles and slides through the curtain of "the real" that separates what we see in a physical life from the unseen mechanics that keep our universe spinning. This extension touches upon notions of the multiverse, the possible hidden dimensions left to be discovered in physics, the invisible yet palpable nature of dark matter, or even something as simple as gravity - invisible forces that make up and guide our lives that yet exist outside the realm of visibility. He therefore explores locations - both the geographic and the liminal - to expose and research how the layers of history, mythology and psychic scars of a site can affect the phenomenological intersections of current physical, mental and emotional experiences within that place and time. He utilizes photography, video, performance, installation and mark-making to explore these psychic environments of intersections, systems, networks and experiences, using himself as a queer-coded conduit.

In/Between | A Rock and a Hard Place specifically examines the unsettled time we live in as we experience social and cultural shifts through the natural world in ways that we cannot yet define. Included are explorations of localities out of time, caught in transition, landscapes that were and that will be still, yet have no current path to navigate. These sites become familiar yet foreign, questioning our ability to build identities on psychic anchors bound to a constantly moving, brittle terrain that humans as a species clumsily destroy as we try to remain upright. This re-mapping of psychic geography is a chance at a repositioning of cultural mindsets while dislocating obstacles that prohibited us from accurately and fairly surveying what we originally saw in the first place.

Prior to joining the Visual and Dramatic Arts (VADA) department at Rice, Roykovich spent a year at the Galveston Artist Residency, on Galveston Island, Texas from September of 2017 through August 2018. Galveston as a site is both a transient and enduring place: though the barrier island has been battered and literally washed away numerous times, its residents and its culture remain defiant of its natural watery adversary. His time spent there focused on the history of the island, the history of its people, the cycles of destruction and rebirth, preservation, deterioration and how the island itself is small microcosm of the challenges we will all face with impending climate change. One day quite soon, the Earth will reclaim that land, while we, as a global society, will experience a huge shift in the way we will live our lives even though we have yet to map out how to navigate that change.

Roykovich was heavily influenced by the lands connected to his familial lineage, as well as his own childhood: His biological father was born in Amityville, New York, site of the well-known house in which an alleged demonic possession and subsequent murder took place; his maternal grandmother was born and raised in Sleepy Hollow, New York - the location known for the folklore of Washington Irving, who embedded into the American psyche a pervasive and ghostly cultural identity with his Headless Horseman; he himself was born in Aurora, Colorado, the site that would become infamous for the 2012 movie theater shootings where 12 people died. He then grew up in Northern New Jersey, in a small, rural town that Weird New Jersey Magazine once coined the epicenter for "weirdness" in the entire state. His own childhood home was perceived as “haunted”, and he was seemingly predestined to involve himself in areas of the sublime and uncanny.

While Roykovich currently teaches digital and analog photography at Rice, he is a conceptual and research-based artist, working in and around New York, Washington D.C., Minneapolis and now Houston. He received his MFA in Visual Art from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in 2014 + his BFA in Art and Visual Technology, cum laude and with departmental honors, from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia in 2011. He has been the recipient of numerous awards and residencies, where he was able to make site-specific work: The Woodstock Brydcliffe Guild, The Chatauqua Institution, The Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia and in Venice, Italy at the Scuola Internazionale di Grafica Venezia. His work has been shown across the United States and internationally.

In/Between | A Rock and a Hard Place: Visions from the Ghost World of how to Survive One's Sovereignty of Self Destruction in a Land We Assumed We Once Knew will be on view at the Rice Media Center Gallery from September 6, through October 17, 2019. Rice Media Center Gallery hours: Monday – Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

For more information on Justin Raphel Roykovich visit: http://www.jrroykovich.com

For questions regarding the exhibition or artist contact: Maria Martinez, maria.martinez@rice.edu, arts@rice.edu, or at 713-348-4882.
Information on the Visual and Dramatic Arts at Rice University can be found at: vada.rice.edu