Critics’ Picks

Bellona (after Samuel R. Delany), 2005.

New York

Ann Lislegaard

Murray Guy
453 West 17th Street
October 22–December 23

When Samuel R. Delany unwound the spindle of traditional narrative and stitched the threads into sci-fi classic Dhalgren's fictitious, factious city of Bellona, he set fire to the codified borders of identity politics in an outrageous display of polysexual philosophic discourse. Ann Lislegaard's follow-up of sorts, Bellona (after Samuel R. Delany), 2005, is a disconcerting tribute to the older master. Initially shown in the Danish Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennale, the piece at first seems to be the most contrary representation of Bellona imaginable. A large white-box screen leans casually across a corner. Projected onto this “canvas” is a first-person, eleven-minute animated tour through a model of four symmetrical rooms—a claustrophic, minimalist Doom, sans demons. But while Delany's city is saturated with grime and bodily fluids, it is also a site of disembodiment—a shifting labyrinth of displaced memories and inexplicable events. The accompanying text, printed on the gallery wall and spoken aloud during the video, is an amalgamation of loose sentences culled from different pages of Dhalgren, each strand a melodic meditation on the terror of logos lost. Lislegaard talks us through this anomic terrain, seamlessly guiding us past permeable walls, pendant globe lamps, and strange infernos. On view in another room is Double Vision, 2004, a video, and the soundtrack to I-You-Later-There, 2000; two better aesthetic complements could not have been conjured.