Rachel Blythe Udell‘s installation at Old City Publishing, Pocket Dimension, is, “a corner of the universe that is not quite here but not quite elsewhere.” Pocket Dimension was installed right before quarantine began, and while there has been less foot traffic than usual at its 2nd Street location, this show in the vestibule has brightened up the days of anyone who walked by. Udell’s intention within the show is to remind us that we are connected just like the inhabitants of Pocket Dimension‘s realm.
LH: What was your inspiration for the concept of “Pocket Dimension”? Have you done a version of this installation anywhere else?
RBU: Inspiration comes from many sources, often stored away, at the edge of my consciousness. It swirls around in my brain, waiting for the moment of discerning. As a child, I loved science fiction. I wondered about life on other planets, and pictured lifeforms that may exist in the space beyond our imaginations. I think there is a lot of that in this installation. It embraces the idea of fantasy and offers escape into a world less sinister. Inspiration also derives from things I can see, though abstracted and distorted in ways that make me feel some kind of emotion that I don’t know exactly how to qualify.
I often feel like all of my installations are part of the same installation, like moving on a time continuum but in different physical spaces. They somehow extend to connect with each other. The arrangements of work evolve, sometimes revolve, or grow, with more pieces added, and sometimes shrink to accommodate smaller spaces. It’s as if a bright stream of ideas and shapes and forms and feelings flows continuously within and manifests at various points in time and space. The installation that feels most closely related to “Pocket Dimension” is “Biomorphia” which I did at The Atlantic Highlands Arts Council in the fall of 2018. The two installations share a main character (the enormous sculpture) centrally placed in a window gallery. In my mind, “Pocket Dimension” seems like a section of that work, but also its own thing, as several of the surrounding pieces made their debut at the InLiquid Vestibule.
My installations have always embodied a realm just outside of lived experience, but the events of recent years and months have intensified their sense of transcendence. Perhaps today more than ever, the sacred connectedness of lifeforms and the environment within which they live is so poignant. Just prior to installation, there was talk about the coronavirus and its deadly potential, bringing that connectedness into much sharper view for people all over the world. My installation went up just before all of the closures began. I had no idea what was to come, but I had wanted to create a safe and beautiful space- aesthetically and ideologically beautiful.