Julika Rudelius | Time Out New York | Time Out New York
May 07 2007
Swiss Institute, through July 14
Julika Rudelius’s new two-channel video installation, Forever, extends the German- born artist’s practice of pinpointing the similarities of individuals within a given social group (past subjects include businessmen and teenagers). Her new demographic: wealthy older women who live in the Hamptons.
Forever interweaves portraits of five subjects, each seen poolside dressed to the nines in glittering gowns or tailored suits against the backdrop of grand Long Island houses. Their extreme self-consciousness comes to the fore when they pause- presumably on Rudelius’s command- and strike a pose for a Polaroid self-portrait. All the while, the women reflect aloud on questions about beauty, aging and cosmetic surgery. The artist’s voice is never heard, making their comments flow unbroken like monologues- so uncannily similar that they almost seem scripted.
Rudelius uses a two-screen presentation not to contrast or complicate her characters, but rather to collapse the differences between them. When a pair of women appears concurrently, one is silent and the other’s words are seen as well as heard, running in subtitles across both screens, implying that different subjects are of the same mind.
Some may find the piece exudes a subtle air of exploitation. But careful consideration reveals that the reductive, even cruel tone serves the artist’s intention: to underscore mass media’s tendency to enforce shallow generalizations and elide idiosyncrasy. Still, viewers may be left craving some personal history, some intimate detail- information Rudelius omits in the service of her deft characterizations, which construct a stereotype in order to critique it. – Lauren Cornell