press release

Mika Rottenberg January 31–May 19, 2019 31.01.2019 19.05.2019

Opening reception: January 30, 6pm

From January 31 to May 19, 2019 MAMbo – Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna is happy to be presenting Mika Rottenberg’s first Italian institutional solo exhibition, curated by Lorenzo Balbi.

The Argentine born artist who grew up in Israel and is now based in New York will be appropriating the imposing volumes of the Sala delle Ciminiere on the museum’s ground floor to animate 11 of her most recent productions—sculpture objects and video installations—famous for their sarcastic and bizarre narrative register.

Rottenberg uses the various languages of film, architectural installation and sculpture to explore the concepts of class, work, gender and value by means of visual image devices which throw light on the connections and concealed processes behind apparently unrelated global economies. Interweaving fictional and documentary data in stories in which geographies and narratives collapse into surreal non-sense, the artist creates complex allegories on the capitalist system which regulates the human condition and massive goods production processes.

Her work highlights themes such as the inequalities caused by the currently dominant economic model and the fragility of the human body using humour, the absurd and confusion as her key lenses. With a fundamentally sculptural approach, the artist frequently begins a project by seeking well-known female interpreters for their unusual body characteristics such as bodybuilders, and then builds elaborate sets as "costumes" for her artists who, in turn, become the theatre in which audiences experience the videos.

From farmed pearl production (NoNoseKnows) to the millions of bright colours in a Chinese supermarket (Cosmic Generator) to wet wipes made from the sweat of other people (Tropical Breeze), the worlds the artist conjures up with her visual creations are populated by uncommon people hard at work—with a resigned zeal which betrays their awareness of wasted lives—on banal and repetitive activities to whose abstruse logic they seem hostages with no escape route.

Rottenberg’s work offers penetrating criticism of the absurd working conditions imposed by the neo-liberal model in which the precariousness of the gig economy has transformed millions of people into impoverished workers. While artificial intelligence and automation threaten a great many jobs, the human presence would appear to be fundamentally important in this precarious system, apparently and perennially on the point of collapse both logically and materially.

Exploring the seduction, magic and desperation of our hyper capitalist, globally connected status quo, Mika Rottenberg’s narratives draw on cinematic and sculptural traditions to forge a new technicolour language which explores the dynamics of work in the era of globalisation, value production and increasingly extreme monetisation of relationships: grotesque considerations on traumatised human lives.

On the occasion of the exhibition three new works which production has been supported by MAMbo together with two important European museum institutions, Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art London and Kunsthaus Bregenz, are displayed: Ponytail (Orange),Smoky Lips (Study #4) and Untitled Ceiling Projection.

The exhibition is supported by Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna and is part of the seventh edition of ART CITY Bologna, the institutional programme of exhibitions, events and special initiatives sponsored by Comune di Bologna in conjunction with BolognaFiere on the occasion of Arte Fiera.