Critics’ Picks

Tori Wrånes, BIG WATER (still), 2022, six-channel video installation, sound.

Tori Wrånes, BIG WATER (still), 2022, six-channel video installation, sound.


Tori Wrånes

Frescativägen 26A
September 24, 2022–February 12, 2023

Gorgeously awkward, the troll-like characters in Tori Wrånes’s video installation BIG WATER, 2022, have round bodies and auburn fur that ripples underwater. Each creature is really a body suit, latex flippers, and taloned gloves worn by a human diver swimming either off the shore of Thailand or in the Arctic Sea. Sometimes filmed close up in pairs and sometimes in groups of four or five, the figures float in the deep current or cluster together on picturesque craggy outcroppings, softly rocking themselves or surreptitiously playing flute instruments. There is no conflict between these beings, no power negotiations. They list about in their cinematic environs: slow, curious, and free.

BIG WATER is projected onto six screens that are installed in a circle, all facing inward toward a tiered, circular seating structure that rotates very slowly, so that viewers become aware only gradually that that their perspective is shifting. The almost imperceptible movement, combined with the work’s satisfyingly high production values and the characters’ endearing strangeness, elicits a kind of inertia in the body of the spectator. We are coasting, we are watching the creatures coast; there is no reason to disengage.

Wrånes pictures the grotesque as something effortlessly shared among these beings, and she creates a situation that is equally effortless for the viewer: No one’s movement produces friction. Wrånes’s portrait of ungendered life is untouched by capitalist extraction, undisturbed by plastic flotsam. Why look away?