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Aernout Mik

The Project

Somebody once told me goldfish can survive in bowls because their memories are too short to conceive of their own miserable existences. The idea—of fish forever circling, unaware of their limited range—seems analogous to the state (or fate) of the people who populate Aernout Mik’s video work.

In his first solo exhibition in the United States, the Dutch artist presented three video projects. The earliest, Organic Escalator, 2000, consists of a projection in a custom-fabricated, tunnel-like room. What we see is a crowd struggling to make its way up, and down, an escalator, which itself appears motionless; nearby is what looks like a collapsing building. Figures are pressed between foreground and background, calling to mind the odd, cramped spatial relationships found in pre-Renaissance painting, early cinema, and low-budget theater, all of which work against—and benefit from—limitations of

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