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– Spring/Summer 2006

Aïda Ruilova: and Again...

Ingrid Chu

Countdowns, 2004, DVD projection with sound, 1min 23sec loop, screened as single-channel in 'Creative Time's 59th Minute': New York, 2005. Photograph by Charlie Samuels. Courtesy of the artist

Countdowns, 2004, DVD projection with sound, 1min 23sec loop, screened as single-channel in 'Creative Time's 59th Minute': New York, 2005. Photograph by Charlie Samuels. Courtesy of the artist

PLAY: (Enjoy) the Ride

While watching any number of Aïda Ruilova's videos in succession, it is tempting to grab for the remote control and press PAUSE, REWIND, MUTE or even STOP - anything to regain a sense of composure given what can hardly be described as a comfortable viewing experience.

This impulse, however, never meets with an overwhelming desire to press REPEAT since Ruilova already incorporates this function into the editing process, whereby she dices short clips of slightly differentiated scenes with sharp-edged precision. Ruilova creates a similar set-up in each of the dozen or so single-channel videos and projections she has made since 1999. Many run for less than a minute and feature young men and women who scream, grunt, whimper and otherwise taunt viewers with repeated utterances such as 'let's go', 'almost' and 'come here'. These phrases, which double as titles, coincide with the equally abrupt gestures of the various protagonists she captures through tightly cropped camera shots that stop and start and zoom in and out. This repetitive quality, compounded by an installation style that groups monitors with looped tapes, produces the alternately dizzying and mesmerising effect, and compels viewers to watch the videos over and over again.

PAUSE: The Subject in Question

As unnerving as they are to watch, the videos offer some satisfaction. By taking them at face value we come to understand how basic combinations of sound, image and structure work to both grant and deny access to Ruilova's work. Nowhere is this more apparent than in her process of rapid-fire editing, for this is what ensures that mere glimpses of hair, gaping mouths, bare chests and turned backs translate onscreen. An example

Footnotes
  1. This process recalls the early structural experimentation in time-based media by artists such as Vito Acconci and Dan Graham, as well as the more recent Jane and Louise Wilson, Gregor Schneider or Mike Kelley and Paul McCarthy.

  2. I am thinking specifically of physical exertion and how it is expressed through works of long duration, such as Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle, 1994-2002, Sharon Lockhart's Goshogaoka, 1997 and Ruilova's single-channel works.

  3. Charles LaBelle, 'I See a Darkness...', frieze, Summer 2003, p.116

  4. Ibid.

  5. Roger Greenspun, The New York Times, 27 April 1970

  6. Ruilova used a Titan Nova dolly crane to create Untitled, which was filmed on the South Texas beaches of Mustang Island during her 2002 residency at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas.

  7. C. LaBelle, op. cit.

  8. In his review of 'I See a Darkness...' LaBelle provides a larger and more succinct argument discussing what at the time was a large number of artists and exhibitions evidencing Gothic sensibilities.

  9. Michael Rush, 'Video Art and the Conceptual Body', in Video Art, London: Thames & Hudson, 2003, p.97

  10. Ralph Rugoff, 'Aida Ruilova', in Irreducible: Contemporary Short Form Video, San Francisco: CCA Wattis Institute, 2005, p.13

  11. Karen Rosenberg, 'Biennial Favorites: Aida Ruilova, The Cult Classicist', New York, 1 March 2004, p.40

  12. See Amanda Cruz, 'Let's Go!', Miami: The Moore Space 2004, brochure

  13. Martha Schwendener, 'Creative Time and Panasonic Present Aida Ruilova: Countdowns', New York: Creative Time, 2005, brochure

  14. K. Rosenberg, op. cit.