27 August 2010

Mika Rottenberg's "Squeeze"

K. and I went to the MOMA this past weekend and after squinting at some favorite drawings by Sol Lewitt and Agnes Martin and some huge paintings by Twombly (all on display thanks to the recent Fischer Collection acquisition), I sat on the floor and watched Mika Rottenberg's intriguing video installation "Squeeze" over and over. While it's certainly indebted to Matthew Barney (and maybe Andrea Zittel, strangely, though I haven't quite figured this one out!), it's strange and beautiful and super interesting and totally worth your time.

Curator Alison Gass writes, "With Squeeze...Rottenberg enters new territory, both literally and metaphorically. She shot documentary footage at a rubber plant in India and at a lettuce farm in Arizona, and spliced it together with scenes of female workers in a paranormal factory (actually a mechanized set constructed in the artist's studio). Through the video's unfolding story line, the otherwise incongruous products from each of these sites are mashed into one mass-produced "art object": a lumpy and subtly revolting cube made of rubber, decomposing lettuce, and blush."

In other words, viewers find themselves in this cubic, revolving machine in which a caste system of specialized labor plays itself out as women workers "harvest" lettuce, rubber, and blush, only for all three products to be thoroughly masticated and regurgitated by the mouth of this scarely exacting machine.

I can't find any video of this particular piece, but here's a short profile on Rottenberg's "Mary's Cherries," which sort of gives you a sense of the tone (though it is almost a decade old! ):

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