EasypiecesMika Rottenberg's surrealism

The Artist’s first solo exhibition at The New Museum
unleashed the best of her production.

  By employing absurdist satire to address critical issues of our time, Mika Rottenberg creates videos and installations that offer subversive allegories for contemporary life. Her works interweave documentary elements and fiction, and often feature protagonists who work in factory-like settings, manufacturing goods ranging from cultured pearls (NoNoseKnows, 2015) to the millions of brightly colored plastic wholesale items sold in Chinese superstores (Cosmic Generator, 2017). 

“Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces” takes its title from the book Six Easy Pieces (1994), in which theoretical physicist Richard Feynman introduces the fundamentals of physics to general audiences. Rottenberg’s exhibition likewise considers our relationship to the material world, while questioning human attempts to control or explain the inexplicable. Her investigations reveal the unseen connections between the basic or “easy” items that we manipulate and consume almost without thinking—from luxury goods and plastic objects to emails, Bitcoin, and particle beams—and matters of the universe beyond our control. 

The exhibition also brings together several of Rottenberg’s best-known kinetic works and videos, set within sculptural installations that expand on the videos’ narratives and intensify the disorienting aspects of her work. At the exhibition entrance, viewers will encounter AC and Plant (2018), a sculpture comprising the back of an air conditioner that drips water onto a potted plant. Other pieces—a video installation viewed through a tiny aperture in sculpted lips, a whipping ponytail , a hallway filled with buzzing fans, and a rotating fingernail painted with an image of the cosmos — further activate the space. 

Together, the works in the exhibition trace central themes in Rottenberg’s oeuvre, including labor, technology, distance, energy, and the increasingly interconnected relationship between the mechanical and the corporeal. Through these works, Rottenberg explores how seemingly insignificant objects and practices can radically alter our climate, our social structures, the ways we communicate and interact with one another, and aspects of our existence that we cannot elucidate or even imagine. 

“Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces”
The New Museum, New York
Through September 12th.