Curtosy of Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Curtosy of Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.

Ideas Series: Mika Rottenberg’s Squeeze

Squeeze is an exploration of feminism and labour. It presents an uncomplicated, yet compelling view of our world and the processes and journeys we forget about when using everyday products like the ones featured in this film based installation.

Rottenberg constructed a moving, complex Willy Wonka-esque factory that sees lettuce pickers in Arizona, manicurists from New York and latex extractors in India come together in a surreal motion of moving boxes powered by one another’s movements. A woman’s face is squeezed in a vice to provide the colour for make up, the manicurists wait patiently in their small quarters in order to service the hands of the Arizona and Indian workers. The finished article is an unattractive mash of all the products featured in a photograph, presented to you on a wall before the viewing of the video, with a delivery note for the mash from the Cancun islands taped next to it.

In order to view Squeeze, you sit in an overly enclosed room with little lighting and nothing to distract you other than the video itself. It is on loop, with no start or end credits leaving the audience to decide when it begins or ends. It reflects the politics of working life, which the world is in action 24 hours a day, 365 days a year with no beginning or an end.

Rottenberg uses factory boxes as a space to deconstruct global distance, for the mind to be able to make some sense of the labour, and the stark reality that workers don’t often reap from the fruits of their produce. The comparison between the vast lettuce fields, the latex tree plantation and the constructed space begins to contest the way in which people work, ploughing in a majority of their time for little reward. The film is mystifying, each scenario cleverly pasted together to seem like the sliding factory boxes are travelling between each place, pooling their sources to make this seemingly pointless end product. You have no idea where the film is actually made, or if it is simply clever camera trickery. That confusion that leads you to focus on what is happening in the film, trying to make sense of the processes and memorizing every single detail.

Squeeze is a display of the world folding in on itself showing an almost a symbolic sign of collapse, bringing far flung areas of the planet together and piling them up to provide some view on the materialistic, capitalist society that exists today. It gives a widening tunnel view on the subject matter, presenting you the finished product (made of the lettuce, make up and latex) first in a small minimalistic cube. An unlikely trophy for the amount of work that you are exposed to in the film.

 

Published on 14 August 2012
Submitted by Megan Wellington
Edited by Photoworks