Opened in August 22nd 2021, The Surface of Mars is Rachel Breaker’s newest environment here at GBTH. In the text below, Rachel talks about her thought process for this exhibition.
I started this project with the intention of making a space similar to the Penn station Amtrak area, or like an airport space of stores. I was looking at abandoned malls, stores, and like fever dream type pictures, such as the back rooms. I was looking at pictures of stores half closed, where the lights are on in the back but off in the front, such as spaces that are closed or closing. This store unintentionally turned into a school, and I realized I was making a place your not supposed to be, not an abandoned space. I unintentionally recreated these motifs I remember from school that were omnipresent. I remember endless cinder block, linoleum tile and drop ceilings. Its identical to big box store architecture.
There are things you never notice that are littered everywhere just from people using them strewed around a school in the hallways, like the folding tables, the plastic chairs, the plastic bins, the grimey formica furniture, office carpeting. Its an area that’s formed a lot like a forest, nobody designs it, things are placed as needed and abandoned, it happens organically. The sounds and the lighting are extremely specific to the space I remember. These aren’t spaces to fear necessarily, but they are vast, stormy, and sublime.
In early dos videogames where I have vague memories of wandering around these endless dark hallways in the abyss in Ultima Underworld. As a child I didn’t know how to play but I remember doing this for hours, picking up trash and just falling asleep.
There is something about this and current events surrounding mars that I can’t explain exactly. The arbitrariness of the design of schools, the things I remember so vividly are empty, and I see the same design in the procedural martian surface. In school I remember being excited about new technology and now I just see it as a nefarious game of a few billionaires. I don’t understand how people can be excited about billionaires going into space, it’s depressing to me. I drew on publicly funded spaces, and icons of government funding that are disappearing. I found old banks that use all this imagery, and seeing them all together, repeated over and over on folding tables, seemed unexplainable but true.