Critics’ Picks

Irit Batsry, Set (detail), 2003/2012, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Irit Batsry, Set (detail), 2003/2012, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view.

Lillestrøm

“Tro-pi-cal”

Akershus Kunstsenter
Storgt. 4
March 31–May 6, 2012

It opened with a blast. During this exhibition’s vernissage, the New York–based band and art collective HARIBO performed an uproarious concert in the garden of this art center in Lillestrøm, a peaceful town ten minutes from central Oslo. The remnants from the gig––a poster and props––are now in the show, which primarily features videos and installations that are much less punk and carnivalesque.

Curated by Geir Haraldseth, “Tro-pi-cal” features work by a range of international artists and is far from a straightforward examination of Brazilian art, serving rather as an investigation into how a country can become enmeshed in its own cultural myths to the point of fictionalization. (“Alternative Orders,” a concurrent show at the art center, presents a historical survey of work made in Brazil from 1960 to the present and is curated by Guilherme Bueno.) At the heart of “Tro-pi-cal” is Irit Batsry’s new adaptation of her sprawling, site-specific video installation Set, which has not been exhibited since it was made for the Whitney Museum in 2003. Installed in a dark room, five projections show behind-the-scenes-footage from the Brazilian movie Madame Satã, directed by Karim Ainouz. The 2002 feature portrays the story of Rio de Janeiro’s legendary drag artist João Francisco dos Santos, aka Madame Satan. Throughout the room, small Plexiglas screens are placed so as to interrupt the beams of the projectors and make the moving images multiply and appear on several surfaces; they evoke the way memories become distorted in one’s mind over time. Indeed, Set delivers a powerful punch of tropical fever.