Critics’ Picks

View of Pamela Rosenkranz’s “Healer,” 2021. Photo: Benjamin Westoby.

View of Pamela Rosenkranz’s “Healer,” 2021. Photo: Benjamin Westoby.

London

Pamela Rosenkranz

Sprüth Magers | London
7A Grafton Street
October 8–December 22, 2021

Pamela Rosenkranz’s solo exhibition “Healer” turns the street-level gallery space of Sprüth Magers into a terrarium. The titular work, Healer (Anamazon) (all works 2021), takes the form of an animatronic snake swathed in a soft green light that bounces off the mirror and aluminum surfaces of the artist’s “Anamazon” paintings. For long stretches of time, the mechanical serpent lies dormant. Its inorganic character is emphasized by the semiconductors, servo motors, and sensors clearly visible through its scales, which have been produced through the traditional Japanese paper-cutting technique of kirigami. Abruptly, the snake lifts its head, as if to assess its visitors. Seconds later, it twists, writhes, and shuffles in a sidewinding movement across the floor. These fits of activity are dictated by an algorithm that picks up and responds to the murmurings of the digital interactions around it, including emails, text messages, and even step counters.

There’s a deep well of symbolism in historical interpretations of the serpent, which can signify death and danger or, conversely, medicine. The series “Healer Skins” sets disembodied sheaths of kirigami atop clear Perspex plinths in a reflection on rebirth, transformation, and regeneration. In a nod to a real reptile’s habitat, the artist has obscured large stock prints of the Amazon with a heavy layering of viscous pink paint. For I Wish I Could Cry Blood (Focus Infinite), Rosenkranz coats a stretched, watermarked print of an eye in the same drippy pigment, redolent of bodily secretions.

Combining references to the body with shed skins and the totemic snake bot, Rosenkranz merges the natural and the synthetic, creating an eerily posthuman world that feels tangibly close to our lived reality.