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Untitled (Felt Floor), 1997 (detail). Resin-impregnated wool felt. Eighteen units: 3 x 18 x 54 inches (7.62 x 45.72 x 137.16 cm) each. Overall: 3 x 108 x 162 inches (7.62 x 274.32 x 411.48 cm). Private collection. Untitled (Felt Floor), 1997. Resin-impregnated wool felt. Eighteen units: 3 x 18 x 54 inches (7.62 x 45.72 x 137.16 cm) each. Overall: 3 x 108 x 162 inches (7.62 x 274.32 x 411.48 cm). Private collection.
Untitled (Felt Floor), 1997 (detail). Resin-impregnated wool felt. Eighteen units: 3 x 18 x 54 inches (7.62 x 45.72 x 137.16 cm) each. Overall: 3 x 108 x 162 inches (7.62 x 274.32 x 411.48 cm). Private collection.
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Untitled (Felt Floor), 1997. Resin-impregnated wool felt. Eighteen units: 3 x 18 x 54 inches (7.62 x 45.72 x 137.16 cm) each. Overall: 3 x 108 x 162 inches (7.62 x 274.32 x 411.48 cm). Private collection.
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Rachel Whiteread

Like much of Whiteread’s sculpture, Untitled (Felt Floor) is a sculptural casting of negative space, in this case a wooden floor. Often focusing on objects from domestic interiors, Whiteread is interested in the associations these ghost-like negative spaces have to our lived experience. She makes spaces that are usually hidden—such as the underside of chairs—visible and viable as three-dimensional form, thereby assuring that these ordinary yet hidden voids are brought to our consciousness. In effect, Whiteread summons presence from absence.
 
The FWM identified an industrial manufacturer of high-grade felt, and brought this company into the project as a collaborator. The process of creating Untitled (Felt Floor) involved several labor-intensive steps. First, a pine floor was built in six sections; a negative rubber mold was made of each section, into which positive rubber molds were cast. These positive rubber forms were pressed into resin-bonded sand to form molds in which bronze positives could be cast. The resulting bronze plates were placed on top of three-inch thick blocks of industrial felted wool, impregnated with resin, and placed in a heated press. Under the weight of the press, the surface of the white wool absorbed the impression of the pine floor form, while the heat cured the resin, ensuring that the embossed design would be permanent. The full sculpture is made of eighteen units, or three impressions each of the original six wooden floor sections. The resulting image is extremely subtle, and under subdued lighting, can look like an unadorned, white Minimalist sculpture. The image becomes apparent with the slightest shift in lighting, however, and the impression of a wooden floor appears in a ghostly state.

Bio
British, born 1963, lives in London
Rachel Whiteread was educated at Brighton Polytechnic (1982-85) and the Slade School of Art (1985-87) in London. She is best known for her major public art projects such as Judenplatz: Place of Remembrance, a Holocaust memorial in Vienna (2000); Water Tower Project (1998), a full-scale cast of the interior of a water tower made from translucent resin and installed on a rooftop in New York’s SoHo neighborhood; and House (1993), a full-scale concrete cast of a row house in London’s East End. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the world, with recent one-person exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2002); Serpentine Gallery, London (2001); the Tate Gallery, London (1997); and the Reina Sofia, Madrid (1997). In 1997, Whiteread was selected to represent her country at the Venice Biennale.