Critics’ Picks

View of “Jubilee,” 2012.

London

Karthik Pandian

Vilma Gold
6 Minerva Street
September 29 - October 27

Karthik Pandian’s first UK solo show explores the performative nature of his practice and plumbs the mechanisms behind the avant-garde. “Jubilee” is in two parts: The first consists of a two-channel 16-mm film and the second is a series of four paintings. The film, on loop in a dark room, presents two vividly different images, one projected on the front of the screen and another on the back; they show two takes of a happening that was performed only for the camera in an anonymous theater, without an audience. In the first take, performers assume the roles of painter, director, and dancer with actions that seem to revolve around the rolling of dice––one performer rolls the dice, and the others act according to the result. The second take, projected onto the back of the screen, mimics the first. As a result,t he two performances are thus superimposed on top of each other as they play on a simultaneous loop, which, along with frantic camera movements, gives the film a very restless feel. But it is precisely the firm structure behind this work’s restlessness that creates an incredible tension.

The accompanying paintings also explore this dichotomy of choreography and improvisation; Pandian has meticulously layered panels of white steel wire, evenly space out from each other, before splattering black paint over them, Jackson Pollock style. The show as a whole recalls the Judson Dance Theatre’s “structured improvisations,” evoking those performances’ combination of modernist rigidity and postmodern abandon. In this way, Pandian exposes the hidden formality of the avant-garde performance, which always seems to have some choreography at its core.