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Lips (Study #3) (Smoky Lips Variant)



Mika Rottenberg

Argentina, Israel

1976 –

No image
  • Details

    Media categories
    Installation , Time-based art
    Materials used
    single channel video installation, colour, sound
    4/6 [edition of 6 + 1AP]
    duration: 00:01:28 min
    Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 2019
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Mika Rottenberg
    Artist information
    Mika Rottenberg

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Through a small hole in the wall of a gallery, a pair of fleshy lips protrude. Moving closer and leaning in, one sees light flickering between them. A puff of what looks like smoke emerges from the lips – as if some bodily or industrial activity is taking place behind the wall. Peering into the cavity, the source of this steaminess reveals itself – a mirror box that holds a hilarious view of bodies working, labouring, performing. Through lurid stippled walls protrude bodily bits and pieces: ponytails, mouths, tongues, and fleshy buttocks. They jiggle and spurt as if in a peepshow that’s both exhibitionist and absurdist. And the longer one looks, the more one is conscious of behaving voyeuristically in public. Mika Rottenberg is an artist who often invites us to peer behind the scenes, into cramped, strange, backstage spaces where bizarre forms of labour play out. The strange acts of production that her performers take part in are comedic, first and foremost, but they also prompt reflection on the larger absurdity of the processes that make our (first) world go round: the way the hidden labour of people very far from us keeps us fed, clothed, supported. This work by Rottenberg continues this exploration and connects it directly with the ‘work’ of art, by puncturing the skin of the revered ‘white cube’ and revealing something weird behind the scenes. Making art and generating pleasure for its viewers, Rottenberg suggests, is not a lofty or pure endeavour. It is sticky, impure and often absurd work, which makes willing voyeurs of us all.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 1 publication