Rottenberg is known for her site-specific video spaces that repurpose her film sets as sculptural assemblages to frame, contain and extend her otherworldly videos. These objects often indicate gender and class; chiming with the specific themes of gendered work, commodified bodies and the global feminisation of labour that are active in her videos. Rottenberg’s video installations deftly manipulate video as a medium that tends to flatten reality, by permitting spectating bodies and filmed bodies to literally inhabit the ‘same space’
At the entrance of the current exhibition, in a small narrow space, a pair of pink fleshy lips protrudes through an opening in the wall. Lips (Study #3) (2016), is a mixed media sculpture consisting of silicone-cast lips that part to form a peephole onto a small mirror-box on which a video plays. The video is a kaleidoscopic loop of pulsing wet tongues, puckering lips, hair braids, and glistening buttocks that are embedded in a lurid three-dimensional surface.
In the next exhibition space, a wall-mounted air conditioning unit hums and drips water onto a household plant that sits on the floor below. AC and Plant Sculpture (2018) creates a sensory environment that isolates a mundane everyday moment into a discrete and unexpected unit of poetic and visual curiosity. Across the space a revolving blue door, studded with tin foil and chewing gum, leads to a viewing room where Rottenberg’s twenty-eight minute video, Bowls Balls Souls Holes (AC & Plant variant) (2014) plays on a loop. A woman lies in a hotel room on a mattress beneath a hole in the ceiling; she appears to conduct energy from the moon through her toes, which is transferred to surrounding objects and contraptions. The subsequent activity converges on a Harlem bingo hall, where the woman calls a game to a room filled with female players. The video appears to drift between documentary and fiction, following a Rube Goldberg-esque assembly line that relies on cause and effect as its basic mode of progression. Its cyclical narrative presents collective labour, numerical codes, magnetic fields, parapsychology, and global warming as factors that contribute to a dialectic production system for the phenomenon we call luck.
In this compelling rhetoric, Rottenberg explores the bewildering and magical potential of a hyper-capitalist, globally connected reality. Bodies, class, gender and labour are employed in an industry where even invisible and abstract forces, such as luck, can materialise into a definitive economy of objects, units and value.