Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces
June 26 – September 15 2019
This exhibition marked the first New York solo museum presentation of work by New York–based artist Mika Rottenberg (b. 1976, Buenos Aires, Argentina). On view in Museum’s Second Floor Galleries in June 2019, “Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces” premiered a new video installation, Spaghetti Blockchain (2019), that explored ancient and new ideas about materialism and considered how humans both comprise and manipulate matter, alongside several of Rottenberg’s video installations and kinetic sculptures.
Employing absurdist satire to address the critical issues of the time, Rottenberg creates videos and installations that offer subversive allegories for contemporary life. Her work interweaves documentary elements and fiction, and often features protagonists who work in factory-like settings to manufacture goods ranging from cultured pearls (NoNoseKnows, 2015) to the millions of brightly colored plastic wholesale items sold in Chinese superstores (Cosmic Generator, 2017).
Together, the works in the exhibition traced central themes in Rottenberg’s oeuvre, including labor, technology, distance, energy, and the interconnectedness of the mechanical and the corporeal. Through these works, Rottenberg illuminated how seemingly insignificant objects and practices can radically alter the environment, social structures, the ways humans communicate and interact with one another, and aspects of that existence that we cannot elucidate or even imagine.
“Mika Rottenberg: Easypieces” took its title from the book Six Easy Pieces (1994), in which theoretical physicist Richard Feynman introduced the fundamentals of physics to general audiences. Rottenberg’s exhibition likewise considered the human relationship to the material world, while questioning attempts to control or explain the inexplicable. Her investigations revealed the unseen connections between the basic or “easy” items that human beings 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.
A fully illustrated catalogue published by the New Museum accompanied the exhibition. The catalogue included an essay by Margot Norton, a conversation between Mika Rottenberg and art historian Julia Bryan-Wilson, and texts on the artist’s work by social and political theorists Diana Coole and Samantha Frost.
This exhibition was curated by Margot Norton, Curator.