Critics’ Picks

View of “Rosana Antolí,” 2020, CentroCentro, Madrid. Photo: Dominik Schulthess.

View of “Rosana Antolí,” 2020, CentroCentro, Madrid. Photo: Dominik Schulthess.


Rosana Antolí

Plaza de Cibeles, 1
February 12–May 17, 2020

Bolstered by its continuous, hypnotic soundtrack, Rosana Antolí’s solo exhibition gesturally regresses to humanity’s primordial origins. Lining the exposed corridors of Madrid’s Cybele Palace, the show—an exploration of our shifting oceans, which are slowly being eclipsed by rising sea levels and expanding populations of poisonous jellyfish—winds through the baroque edifice in a tentacular circuit. Though the films, paintings, and sculptures on display, Antolí proposes that understanding these gelatinous organisms might be key to human adaptation and survival.

Antolí’s previous works have considered social choreographies as forms of political organization, but now she shifts her focus to an underwater milieu. The dark polyethylene tubes of Chaos Dancing Cosmos—Las Huellas Del Aquasea (Chaos Dancing Cosmos—Aquasea Tracks), 2020, a new iteration of a similarly named piece presented at Tate Modern last year, have transformed into a patch of floating seaweed. Nearby hangs Gelata Skin, 2019, a mass of copper filaments suspended in the air, and its accompanying video piece, Medusa Immortal (Immortal Jellyfish), 2019, in which a performer dons the sculpture as a costume and gestures in a syncopated flux.

Like the “immortal jellyfish” Turritopsis dohrnii, simple forms are often more adaptable to new conditions than complex ones. A minimalist, blue environment binds these galleries, where the artist will present a series of performances in which she will mimic the fluctuating movements of the hydrozoa that rule the watery world. Through gesture and sound, Antolí’s film Instructions, 2019, challenges its viewer to slip out of humanity, a survival strategy for a liquid age.