Critics’ Picks

View of “Rage and Patience,” 2013.

Los Angeles

Rasmus Røhling

Human Resources LA
410 Cottage Home Street
November 14–December 15

At the heart of “Rage and Patience,” Rasmus Røhling’s US solo debut, is a thirty-six-inch Epson T5000 printer stacked on its big cardboard package, straddling a MacBook Air, a tangle of cords, and a motion sensor. As the viewer enters the gallery’s innermost room, the piece, titled The Hobby (all works 2013), spits out an essay on a sheet of paper roughly the size of a human body, which slouches onto a pile of other copies. This routine is an apt enactment of what the oversize text unfolds: a theory of art as the “secretion of unnameable” [sic]. Indeed, by this late stage in Røhling’s stubborn, poetic show, the viewer might expect to find such a deadpan fetishization of the unnamed or unremarkable—embodied as much in the aesthetic of cables, stands, and “gear” as in that of the text they support.

In an untitled audio piece emitted from two small speakers, Røhling describes the night that Andy Warhol licked John Giorno’s shoes before filming him sleeping. As Røhling “um”s and “uh”s between protracted silences, the artist performs a “casualness” which parallels Warhol’s staged pretentiousness. Mowgli, a framed photograph of a stunned or informal blonde woman—and the only traditional art (fetish) object on view—telegraphs both the artist’s affection and his affectation. Nearby, perched in the center of the cavernous main gallery, a drooping long-throw projector lens is suddenly (pathetically) suggestive; it beams an untitled and unreadable video—described on the show’s checklist as being five hours and twenty-one minutes long, the same length as Warhol’s Sleep—out two doors, past the desk, and into the street. A pair of “Brooks Brothers Cordovan Tassle Loafers” [sic] is listed on the checklist as “not exhibited.” Again and again, the desired “culminations” of the artist’s process—that is, actual artworks—are withheld (as, after all, masturbation does not always end in orgasm). Instead, the displayed hardware, text, and media spatialize Røhling’s ongoing theorization of art as at once spontaneous and anticipatory, naked and unknowable, casual and erotic.