Jenny Perlin: Gallery 400

By Yood, James | Artforum International, September 2004 | Go to article overview

Jenny Perlin: Gallery 400


Yood, James, Artforum International


The raspy clackety-clack of 16 mm cine projectors is already a poignant and wistful sound, and this exhibition of recent films and drawings by Jenny Perlin included four such projectors running nonstop. One of them showed Washing, 2002, a grainy, ten-second silent black-and-white loop of the artist washing a window in her Brooklyn studio, the Manhattan skyline visible outside. Poignant and wistful certainly but melancholic and forlorn to boot, the repetitive act of stroking the window through which Manhattan beckons seems an act of obeisance, an acknowledgment of the fractious relationship between Manhattan and Brooklyn, a paean to the city just an arm's reach away, a wish to serve and groom it. Of course, that skyline was radically transfigured just before 2002, and washing its vista also suggested a gesture of healing, of coaxing it back to life.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Some of the mundane realities of life in New York in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 also make up part of Rorschach, 2002, one of three hand-drawn animated 16 mm films shown here. Employing traditional stop-motion animation, the artist uses a 16 mm cine camera to photograph and rephotograph a sheet of paper as she gradually works up a drawing. When these individual frames of film are shown in sequence, the drawing seems to come to life before our eyes. Many of the several-second vignettes of which Rorschach is composed are slavishly copied ephemera such as computerized receipts, immigration questionnaires, and fortune-cookie aphorisms. Perlin's renderings of food receipts from September 18 and September 21, 2001, and the receipt headed I [love] NEW YORK from October 21, 2001, all become, through their very banality, powerful mementos. …

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