Mika Rottenberg's Squeeze

 Last Saturday Mika Rottenberg's solo show Squeeze opened at Mary Boone gallery. Rottenberg's piece was previously shown at San Francisco SFMOMA and will later travel to Europe (tba).

"Mika Rottenberg’s latest work Squeeze continues the artist’s inquiry into the mechanisms by which value is generated, considering the logistics of global outsourcing and the alchemy of art production. Through movie-magic portals, Rottenberg links video of her Harlem studio stage set to on-location footage of an iceberg lettuce farm in Arizona and a rubber plant in Kerala, India. This composite factory toils ceaselessly to create a single precious object, one small sculpture. The video is presented in a custom-made theater. The sculpture is inaccessible – preserved offshore, out of reach for public or private viewing." [source]
The white cube, viewing machine for the video Squeeze, inside the white shiny space of Mary Boone gallery in Chelsea. Everybody had to squeeze inside the box to watch the ~20mins video. You leave the bright scenery of a representative art opening and walk into a box where is becomes darker with the pace of your steps.
 The inside of the narrow exhibition space mirrors tactile qualities of exchangable office spaces across the globe. Acoustically perfectly tuned airconditioning and generic ceiling materials (asbestos?) comfort your way into the white box to watch the video of the machine which in turn features the same elements (aircon, ceiling, flowerpot). You are not outside the system.
Inside you are anonymous with the other spectators sitting in a box watching another box acting as machine and inevitably become part of what is happening in the video.I don't write too much here. Go and see the show yourself. ;)
The small sculpture, produced by the machine featured in the video, presented by Mary Boone. This image is sold as c-print in life-size.
Detail of the small sculpture. Resin holding together rubber, cosmetics and lettuce as analogies for female survival strategies in a society of capitalised bodies.
 The sculpture could have been a valuable artpiece, produced for a hungry global art market to make and represent money, exhibited around the world and traded among galleries, museums and curators. Rottenberg in turn decided to have it stored "in perpetuity" in the financial offshore hotspot Cayman Islands. Just as so much capital is sitting banked offshore, untaxed and useless for other purposes, Rottenberg's sculpture is locked away from the public and will slowely degrade in a crate inside of a warehouse on Cayman Islands (notice the shipping company 'Tropical Shipping'). Collectors can meanwhile buy shares of the blush-salad-rubber-cube which, just as any piece in the art market, may increase or decrease in value. Buying Rottenberg's art has become a real investment and metaphor of the functioning of the global art market intertwined with global business and industry.
Squirting air condition for a livable home on the outside of the installation.

Power supply. This detail of the installation was very intriguing for me. The power cord runs unhidden through half of the gallery before nurturing the video and providing conditioned air within the tight projection space. At one point during the opening a small boy almost unplugged the power supply for the installation. (Only his mother's courageous intervention could prevent the disaster!) This showed in a nice and coincidential way the fragility of the whole picture and as well the pressing issue of energy security which is so necessary to maintain a system of globalized capitalist production.
Squeeze was shot by Mahyad Tousi, the set built by Quentin Conybeare and spcial effects done by Katrin Altekamp. The aesthetics of the movie's working scenes reminded me of films such as 'Our Daily Bread', 'We Feed the World' or 'Workingmans Death' which, of course, are merely personal analogies. ;) 
heavy mass
magnetic force
a crack
a squeak
twinkling stars
electromagnetic fields
a buzzzzz
tongue flickers
fountain squirts
space expands
pressure applied to Rose's cheeks
Redness extracted
Iceberg Lettuce
Pure Latex Cream
pressure at its max
moist butts
bouncing ponytails
two holes align
ice crackles
temperature declines
space shrinks back to first position
shrinks, back to first position. Ingredients willed in, first layer is laid.” [source]

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