A sign on the front door of the gallery warns visitors of “scalding” sculptures inside. It refers to a frying pan sitting on a hot plate, catching drips from a leaky air conditioner above it, and jars of
Each clothespin just barely makes it to the next step in its journey. Ms. Rottenberg’s crisp editing renders the action as pathos-filled slapstick. You root for the pins, even through they have a disturbing final destination: a room where a man is stoically attaching them to his head. After filling his face, he starts spinning quickly and—poof!—vanishes, and the pins somehow end up falling from the sky elsewhere in the world. Other subplots—one involving a sleeping woman with magical powers who awakes when drops of
Outside the little viewing room, elements of the video are arranged around the gallery: The lottery machine is affixed to a spinning wall, and a trompe l’oeil decal on the floor looks like a hole sliding open. The exhibition obliquely hints at the many vast, incomprehensible systems—multinational production networks, lightning-fast automated trading programs, global warming—that churn away invisibly all around us, afflicting bodies and psyches. Rendering those forces as subtle, witty surrealism, Ms. Rottenberg has made a picture of the present moment that is at once miraculous and chilling.
(Through June 14, 2014)