© Mika Rottenberg, Performance Still (PJ & Cheryl), from the series Performance Stills, 2008
© Mika Rottenberg, Performance Still (Raqui on Pete), from the series Performance Stills, 2008
© Mika Rottenberg, Performance Still (Kat legs & Torso), from the series Performance Stills, 2008
“Bodies, at once repulsive and sensual, larger-than-life and ever-so-ordinary, are vital to factories: their products appropriated; their shapes subsumed; their excretions packaged; their quirks put to work. Here is where the freakshow meets the sweatshop. Factories take on the features of cages and kitchens, their technology at once whimsical and industrial. A pinwheel spins. Dough rises. A bicycle chain ferries fingernails. Sweat is shrink-wrapped. Virginity is conveyed along belts. An allergic reaction becomes a force of production.
There is materialism and anti-materialism. On the one hand, factories are designed to the minute specification of material substance: dough is subject to entropy and gravity, yeast is subject to oxygen and heat, value is subject to demand and supply, and bodies are subject to growth and decay. While on the other hand, causal processes violate expectations of space and time: sweat drips too slowly to collect in that quantity; dough is too thick to stretch that far; bodies are too fragile to sit so stooped; life is too short to labor that long.
There is at once a contraction and expansion of human capability. Persons, though full-blooded and able bodied, have their degrees of freedom constrained to a single plane. Twist, pull, peddle, shove. Squeeze, blow, wipe, crinkle. Yet, their seemingly useless properties are finally utilized; their seemingly monstrous attributes are finally actualized. A sneeze is harnessed. Double-joints are wielded. Gender becomes a motive force. Gigantism is yoked. Obesity is deployed. Ethnicity provides traction.
In an economic climate evermore set on circulation-based theories of value, Mika Rottenberg’s videos and drawings emphasizes the centrality of labor. In a political climate evermore set on delocalization, these works brings otherwise disparate processes into a single frame of view. And in a social climate evermore set on fragmentation and depersonalization, Rottenberg’s work emphasizes whole persons and unique personalities.”
A behind-the-scnenes movie from the series can be seen here