Magazine article Art Monthly

Trisha Baga: Rock

Magazine article Art Monthly

Trisha Baga: Rock

Article excerpt

Vilma Gold London 4 April to 20 May

What kind of new creature are you, in our digital landscape? Are you a digital native, gliding around, elegant as a shimmering fish in water, or a digital immigrant, transitioning awkwardly from one environment to the other? Either way, Trisha Baga's installations, characterised by fragments of sound, images of glittering water and light thrown around the room, create a physical sense of that shattering and pinwheeling of the mind's focus that has so quickly become a condition of contemporary experience as we dip in and out of various screens and interfaces. And, while digital aesthetics are fast becoming a trope in the work of video artists--frenetic cutting, a mixture of computer-generated, found and original footage--Baga's work repeatedly refers back to the body, and to other sorts of physical borders, lending it a significance that goes beyond the aesthetics of digital distraction.

'Rock', the young Floridian artist's first solo exhibition in London, comprises three mixed-media installations, dominated by Plymouth Rock (all works 2012), a two-channel video in Vilma Gold's main space which is projected into a room strewn with lumpen objects that have a quotidian physicality to them: a 'ghetto blaster' CD player, a box of wires, a water bottle and a bubblewrapped plinth. Some of the objects obscure the projections, casting shadows in front of the image; a constant reminder of their outdated, analogue physicality. There are also a couple of sparely executed paintings pinned to the back wall--swooshy lines that might just coalesce into faces--and a menu for a Chinese takeaway.

Ostensibly Plymouth Rock is based on Baga's attempts to identify with the historical pilgrim landing site, a monument which has been repeatedly split into pieces. To do this she imagines herself as a broken body, occasionally pirouetting in front of the camera or waving her hands like a fish, yet it might be more accurate to say that she performs the body in relation to forms of liquidity. The video projections themselves repeatedly return to images of the sea or other bodies of water. One piece of shaky footage that is often returned to is taken from sea at sunset, the artist being obviously immersed quite deep in the water: we hear little gasps and breaths as she is hit by waves. But we also hear other fragments: a few seconds of the Backstreet Boys' 1997 hit 'Everybody (Backstreet's Back)', Gloria Estefan's 'Conga' from 1985 and a Hollywood film studio ident (which I incorrectly identified as belonging to Dreamworks). …

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