Critics’ Picks

Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Telepathic Improvisation, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes.

Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Telepathic Improvisation, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 20 minutes.

New York

Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz

253 East Houston Street Ground Floor
June 2–July 16, 2017

Anita Pallenberg is dead, long live Anita Pallenberg.

I couldn’t help but think of the sublime rock goddess, a mere two days after her passing, upon entering Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz’s exhibition (organized by Alhena Katsof and Mason Leaver-Yap), a glamorous sepulcher that calls to mind a sex dungeon, an abandoned cabaret, and a dressing room—Alice Cooper’s perhaps, during the height of his power. Near the entrance is a rotating stand of microphones, he ear r (all works 2017), glittering in the darkness, while a screen of imitation blond, black, and ombre hair, Wig piece (whose body? – whose thoughts?), functions as a kind of billboard, guiding you to a sleeker, kinkier life. A giant pair of handcuffs suspended from the ceiling in the back of the gallery, Untitled (prop), accentuates this feeling.

The shackles reappear in Telepathic Improvisation (also the title of a musical work created in 1974 by the late composer Pauline Oliveros), a twenty-minute video of a haunted floor show, and the exhibition’s centerpiece. Here, four artists walk out into a black-box space: Marwa Arsanios, Werner Hirsch, MPA, and Ginger Brooks Takahashi. Except for Hirsch, all wear garments in Kraftwerk crimson. Together, they perform as if anesthetized. A smoke screen appears; a motorized trio of squat white plinths crawls across the floor; a strobe occasionally blinks. During the last quarter of the film, we receive a message from another dead sister: Red Army Faction cofounder Ulrike Meinhof, talking through MPA. The words are from a famous text Meinhof wrote after the 1968 shooting of Rudi Dutschke, the face of the German student movement. “Right-wing politicians will be able to carry on their hate campaign, they will continue to encourage the police to attack,” says MPA / Meinhof. “They want politics as destiny, masses of disenfranchised people and refugees, a helpless passive opposition.” At the end of the dialogue, the actor disappears. A spotlight then flashes, helplessly, pathetically. No more theatrical artifice—indeed, the fun is over.