Aïda Ruilova’s work is characterised by its direct address: her jump-cut editing technique and euro-horror references that pivot on an audio-visual axis. So it’s surprising that her new work on show here subtly contrasts with any preconceived interpretation. Listed as her first solo show in Germany, Ruilova has composed an exhibition of works that are unique in their content but long for a dislocation in time that is fragmented by diachronic referencing.
Inside Baudach’s hangar of a space Ruilova has constructed the inverse of a gallery: her physical works hung on the outside of what, for once, is actually a white cube. This may be due to practicalities of space: her film, which is projected inside the cube is intimate, and functions well inside because you are aware of the structure you are contained within when viewing it. It is difficult to imagine the success of the work in an alternative installation, especially in a gallery as vacuous as this.
The exhibition is essentially two works that succeed in combination because they are polarised in content. The same can be said for the inside and outside of the cube: black and white. On the outside hang embossed poster reliefs running from A to Z; kitsch plastic iconographs of an era, also representing the individual letters of the alphabet. The majority of which are composed from the characters within each frame, bent in a semaphore fashion. These are refreshing to see, as Ruilova’s practice has popularly been defined by her video work. However, the quality of these printed ephemera does not outweigh the maturity of her new 16mm film ‘two-timers’, 2008, which is shown in the darkened interior of the cube.
Rhythm has remained constant for Ruilova throughout her career: a result of her musical training. ‘two-timers’ distinguishes a departure: a departure first noted in ‘life like’, which was exhibited at the 2006 Berlin Biennial. This new 16mm film in part reflects its material. The fast, choppy edits of her previous videos are discarded for an editing process that is much more akin to its filmic material. That isn’t to say that her use of rhythm is disparaged: it is developed through a narrative that is delivered through narration. A poem, that appears mobius at points, guides the film’s action: a girl and a rat, floating in water in an almost embrace. The narration not only gives rhythm to the visual, but also sexualises it; the relationship between the two protagonists is lamented in the first person by the camera operator. Although, what is described aurally excrecises poetic licence over what we are actually presented with on screen.
The void that the film and its protagonists are suspended within contains the viewer with the environment of the installed work. For Ruilova, the control of this mise en scène marks an important extension of the frame; a control that astutely draws the viewer into the subjugating nature of the work.
Steven Cairns is co-editor of MAP