Brief CV
Rachel Thompson is a musician, filmmaker, and writer currently pursuing a PhD in anthropology at Harvard University. She holds an MFA in Visual Arts from UCSD and an MA in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University. As a programmer, educator and media producer, Thompson has worked at the Walker Art Center, J. Paul Getty Museum, and has volunteered her time at the Trylon Microcinema, the Bridge Public Art Initiative, and the Center for Creative Research. With collaborator Jonathan Zorn she co-founded the imprint SET Projects, devoted to experiments in electro-acoustic and improvised music. She has guest-lectured throughout the US and has taught courses in film history/criticism, new media theory/practice, and experimental music. Prior work has examined cultural and political legacies of colonialism, dynamics of cultural exchange and assimilation, and artistic practice in the wake of political violence. Current projects explore the peculiar indeterminacy between land and water, over the longue durée, in Indonesia and the Netherlands.
Curatorial Statement
My engagement with curation emerges out of a conjoined interest in research and creative practice, animated by an essayistic impulse—that roaming, ruminative, shape-shifting authorial energy. I regard essayism as method rather than genre—as a modality marked by the intricacy of its stylistic maneuvers, its micro-structural endeavoring, and its restless, ever-meandering flow. While at times it traverses a vast terrain, the essay concentrates its energy within nooks and crannies, without urgent concern for achieving wholeness or resolving loose ends. Its sketch-like form, however, is not an affectation, but rather reflects a decidedly skeptical disposition, ever conscious of the limits of human knowledge. More than recording the end result of critical thought, an essay documents a performance of thinking-through. I am currently working on a curatorial project in cinematic and book form, entitled Mother Monkey Love. The project engages conflicting notions of perversion, love, captivity, tenderness, mockery, admiration, and torture that have long characterized relations between humans and apes.
Projects realized (Selection)
Mother Monkey Love—image-laden artists’ book and related anthology film (ongoing). Audio March—month-long performance series featuring Alison Knowles and Gregory Whitehead (Bridge PAI, with Jonathan Zorn). Sound Garden—interactive sonic sculptures for children (Walker Art Center, Free First Saturday, with J. Zorn). 50 sound stories + 466 decibel readings—sound map, curated audio walks, and field recording montage (Design Institute, University of Minnesota, with A. Clark, R. Giampietro, R. Hutton, and J. Zorn). SET Projects—audio imprint devoted to experiments in electro-acoustic and improvised music (ongoing, with J. Zorn).