Critics’ Picks

View of “REPEATER,” 2019.

View of “REPEATER,” 2019.

Los Angeles

Julie Tolentino

Commonwealth and Council
3006 West 7th Street, Suite 220
September 21–November 2, 2019

Julie Tolentino’s “REPEATER” proposes that an exhibition is a durational experience, and attests to the poetry of staying with it. The gallery’s sole window is papered up with foil, but pinpricks allow a starscape of buttery sunlight to filter in. Sculptural items (all from 2019) are grouped, in shifting constellations, around a central rectangle of scuffed, pearl-hued flooring. During my visit, a black trestle teetered, like a pommel horse, on two legs. Another, feathered with latex gloves, brooded nearby. A wiry cube, full of unactivated space, sat tilted on a mirror-bearing box on wheels. A rope was coiled on the floor. The gallery’s lighting was dimmed, de-emphasizing viewership and gesturing toward an ulterior sensory economy—perhaps one of feeling amid a provisional commons of objects and bodies.

There is no intrinsic framework for interpreting these enigmatic arrangements. Rather, the artist repositions the sculptures—nonprogrammatically, during 108 hours of recursive interventions, scheduled for Thursdays through Saturdays throughout the show’s run—to make meaning through movement. Every hour, a camera documents the room, and Tolentino cuts the same spot on her inner thigh to smear a slide with a throb of blood; these organic documents accumulate on a mirrored cube table as an artwork that will be complete only when the performances end. During the opening, after Tolentino had shimmied with collaborator Stosh Fila (aka Pig Pen), Robert Crouch’s thudding soundtrack kept reverberating, animating the stillness of the performance’s afterglow. In a more recent activation, a large glittery sack (which previously lay crumpled on the floor, peered upon by a tray-size rectangular mirror) cloaked the artist, giving a shimmer to her viscous movements. In another, the artist’s heels dragged an arc against a section of wall, leaving a dusty rainbow of a shadow.

Jack Halberstam called queerness “an outcome of strange temporalities.” “REPEATER,” which could be described similarly, finds queer performativity not in resolution but in iterative, anti-epiphanic incompleteness.