Critics’ Picks

View of “Orlando,” 2015.

View of “Orlando,” 2015.

New York

Trisha Baga

Greene Naftali Gallery
508 West 26th Street Ground Floor
September 3–October 3, 2015

There is a scene toward the end of Tarkovsky’s The Mirror (1975) in which a lantern on a solitary table rolls and falls into the grass, and though we hear a constant sound of leaves, the fall is silent. In Trisha Baga’s latest solo outing, the subtle drama of that unexpected sensual loss receives a strangely maximalist reincarnation. One scene of the 3-D video installation MS Orlando (all works 2015) depicts a group dance lesson in a mall, led by a head-miked, corporately poloed instructor, who becomes devoiced midscene, as if she’d switched to speaking with the silence of galactic voids. This beyond-sensical, post-Trecartin, post-Henrot, weirdly Tarkovskian mess couldn’t be more welcome at a moment when 3-D cinema often seems a glorified extrusion of the 2-D filmic surface. AbEx gestures float groundless between the viewer’s body and the screen, their casual ephemerality seeming to negate contemporary abstract painting’s earnest efforts, while footage taken from inside a carwash plays beyond. A snatch of Terminator dialogue bubbles over at the top: “Time isn’t linear, we just perceive it that way.” Yes, one thinks, and neither is space anymore.

The gallery is dominated by Baga’s ceramics, mostly depicting banal objects such as Crocs (Untitled) and one Purell dispenser. These works, formed and glazed with a careless virtuosity that self-consciously exceeds their subject matter, are numerous and crowded in display. Why give us this aggressive panoply? The answer is in the air above, where a 3-D peacock pecks at a portrait made of seeds (Peacock Museum The Department of Education). It’s pecking at plastic form itself.