Critics’ Picks

  • Daniel Jacoby, Pink Dusts, 2019, moisture resistant MDF cut outs, acrylic paint, underwear, light fittings, wiring, PVC, LED strip with controller, metal fixings, dimensions variable.

    Daniel Jacoby, Pink Dusts, 2019, moisture resistant MDF cut outs, acrylic paint, underwear, light fittings, wiring, PVC, LED strip with controller, metal fixings, dimensions variable.

    “The total scab-free solidarity...”

    A Tale of a Tub
    Justus van Effenstraat 44
    September 5–November 1, 2020

    During lockdown, curator Tiago de Abreu Pinto picked up the notoriously difficult 1996 novel Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace. The result is “The total scab-free solidarity and performative silence that struck floor-shows and soundstages from Desert to NJ coast for over half a year,” a group exhibition titled after a passage that describes the hippie past of the morally vacant Johnny Gentle, a crooner-turned-right-wing-US-president whom de Abreu Pinto sees as personifying our global political reality and its widening precarity. Here, six artists channel that economic vulnerability into speculative environments that collapse distinctions between isolation and collectivity, public and private, inside and out.

    In Mercedes Azpilicueta’s Geometric Dancer Doesn’t Believe in Love, Finds Aspiration and Ecstasy in Spirals, 2015, a performance video projected on aluminum sheets, bodily hums and groans reproduce the frenetic ambiance of Rotterdam’s markets. Daniel Jacoby’s installation Pink Dusts, 2019—confected from cheap, pastel-colored fibreboard and wiring that once belonged to signage for Lima’s sprawling Polvos Rosados shopping center—involves angular limb-like shapes, clad in black lingerie, that constellate across the ceiling. Presenting cast-metal containers staggered across empty rooms like buckets catching drips and moisture, Víctor Santamarina connects architectural leakage to that of the human body, finding metaphors of both extraction and escape.

    Together, these works’ contradictions amount to a necessarily scattered meditation on human connection amid a rapidly privatized world, one whose oppressive systems have only worsened during the pandemic. Infinite Jest—that 1,079-page encyclopedia of contemporary culture and self-consciousness—retroactively informs the exhibition’s content, but also its whirling, nonlinear forms. Like all absurdities, theirs are rooted deeply in familiarity, suggesting that we already arrived at Wallace’s dystopic near-future a long time ago.