Since the late 1990s, the New York-based artist has been working at the intersection of body and image, particularly in the form of video. Both a continuation and expansion of Ruilova’s artistic practice, the newest exhibition brings together a variety of media. In addition to the large-format projection of a digitalized 16-mm film, the show also features paper collages and a collection of glass objects.
Aïda Ruilova is especially known for her video works, which are characterized by striking images, rhythmic cuts, and sound design influenced by experimental pop music, with consistent references to the genre films of the 1960s and ’70s. For the video projection in the exhibition, Immoral Tales, Ruilova restaged a short sequence from a French erotica film of the same name from 1973. In the sequence, a finger is seen in close up, repeatedly touching a woman’s mouth and pushing its way inside. Set to these images is the sound of heavy, heated breathing. Played at a preternatural volume, the audio resounds through the gallery and sets the atmosphere of the exhibition.
Two collages installed apart from the projection take up the same topic. These are derived from original film posters on which Ruilova applied a variety of techniques to remove all text, reducing the posters to their only subtly modified motifs: a female torso and a peeled banana. Leotard and Banana, as the collages are titled, play with the striking imagery of the original posters and their clichéd representations of female and male sexuality. Just as with Immoral Tales, the collages are appropriation and ironic subversion at the same time.
In addition to images both moving and still, the exhibition also works with language, in the form of numerous glass objects that are installed directly next to the collages. Words like Hate and Liar are spelled out in voluminous curves of glass, with typographic influences rooted in the late 1960s or early 1970s. What Ruilova creates here is a deliberate shift of context. Through these transparent, organic forms, the otherwise provocative words are rendered vulnerable and fragile, rather than hard and severe. Moreover, the glass works, which further appear in the exhibition as the words War, Love, and Jealous and as objects such as a pair of red lips or a kneeling female nude, also have a wholly practical function: Each can be used as a pipe for smoking hashish. Just as words can transport us to a place beyond our own lived reality, the same can be achieved with a certain application of Aïda Ruilova’s glass sculptures.
Aïda Ruilova was born 1974 in Wheeling, West Virginia. She holds a MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. She had solo shows in various institutions in the US and abroad, i.a. The Fortnight Institute, New York (2017) / La Conservera, Murcia, Spain (2010) / The Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2009) / Aspen Art Museum, Aspen, USA (2008). Besides this she has participated in numerous interational group exhibitions. A selection contains: Resonance/Dissonance, Frost Art Museum, Miami, USA (2016) / Die kalte Libido – Haus der Kunst, Munich (2015) / PUNK. Its Traces in Contemporary Art, CA2, Madrid (2015) / The Crime was Almost Perfect, Witte de With, Rotterdam (2014) / Pose/Re-Pose, SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah (2012) / Festival of Ideas, ICA, London (2011), BigMinis. Fetishes of Crisis, CAPC, Bordeaux (2011) / Haunted: Contemporary Photography/Video/Performance, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011) / fast forward 2. The Power of Motion, ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2010) / Tarantula, Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, Milan (2008) / Sympathy for the Devil: Art and Rock and Roll Since 1967, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2007) /Pensée Sauvage, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (2007) / Six Feet Under, Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland (2006) / Of Mice and Men, 4. Berlin Biennial (2006) / Uncertain States of America, Fearnley Museum for Moderne Kunst, Oslo (2005) / Greater New York 2005, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2005).