press release

The Galerie Guido W. Baudach is pleased to present Aïda Ruilova's first solo exhibition in Germany.

The artist, who was born in 1974, has been mainly attracting attention with a series of short videos since the late 90ies. These works were shown in numerous galleries and art institutions in New York, London, Milan and various other places.

Ruilova's videos are as harsh as exhilarating. Often, individual characters are presented in not too clear, but obviously extreme situations. The narrative is kept very elliptical. The actors or actresses mostly can be seen in strange postures, positions, and actions. Continuity conventions are deliberately ignored. In the rapid change of camera angles, parts of rooms and bodies jump through a confusing succession of odd focusses. Which feels fixed and unhinged at the same time - and serves to create situations oscillating between strain, frustration, or suppressed aggression on the one hand and a liberating, grotesque shock effect on the other hand.

The typical rhythm of Ruilova's editing can be pinpointed somewhere between the poor cuts of a B movie and the perfect timing of a slapstick. The disruptions work, as a kind of estrangement effect, against the narrative flow. But at the same time they intensify the graphicness of the action - and thus the impression of the characters' psychological alienation. In spite of their puppet-like manner and their artificial contortions, those bodies express something existentially human.

Nothing exactly violent ever happens in Ruilova's video images. But the brusque montage and the psychologically charged settings create a profoundly disturbing atmosphere. Rhythm and sound are of particular importance. Apart from music movements like noise rock or No Wave, films by directors like Jean Rollin, Dario Argento, Walerian Borowczyk or Andrzej Zulawski have a decisive impact on Ruilova's work. These directors incorporate film techniques from the horror and thriller genres to create a psychological space that is fundamentally human, erotic and alien all at once.

In Ruilova's current exhibition a 16mm black-and-white film is presented. The outside walls of the projection room form a cube in which a series of 26 photo relief prints are hung.

The reliefs feature hieroglyph-like representations of the letters of the alphabet. The images present people either in the physical shape of the letter allowing the body to take on the shape of the letter or present objects in which the viewer can devise meanings related to language. The "J" relief, for example, shows a portrait photograph based on the main character in Carl Theodor Dreyer's movie "The Passion of Joan of Arc" (1928); the "D" is symbolized by a door - one that was designed by Carlo Mollino. Using these different references and incorporating them into the alphabet the reliefs become a system that can be ambiguous and at the same time instantly recognizable.

The relief aesthetic triggers various references: ancient hieroglyphs, wall decorations of different art-historical epochs, kitschy advertising and soft porn reliefs. The pulp connection is hard to miss. Looked at from the side, the 3D effect fails grotesquely. Nevertheless the naturalistic appearance of the plastic textures is quite impressive. The mummy-like, encasement-like feel of the depictions of the people is uncanny. But being arranged as a sequence, the alphabet also reminds of a film strip - waiting to be set in motion.

Whereas the images of the movie "two-timers" have a relief-like quality. It's Ruilova's first black-and-white film. The way in which time is dealt with here, also differs from Ruilova's previous works. The events unfold quite slow. There's time to concentrate on the characters. A woman and a rat are presented, surrounded and encased by water. The water is black. It forms a milieu which is as eerie as abstract. In a voice-over, lyrics about a mysterious relation-ship constellation are recited. The first-person narrator looks through a viewfinder at two other characters. The three bodies appearing in the voice-over text are compared with the planet Mars and its two moons (Mars' two moons are, by the way, named after Deimos ("dread") and Phobos ("fear", "horror"), the sons of the god Mars/Ares) - scarred objects in space. The film images arouse feelings of isolation. The dark water seems limitless and creepy. The world is confined to but a few subjects/objects.

"two-timers" shows certain similarities to Ruilova's video "It had no feelings" (2004). This video also had, for one of Ruilova's works, a rather strong narrative. In addition to that there are connections concerning the setting and the fact that both works deal with dysfunctional relation-ships.

In the voice-over text of the film as well as in the photographs of the relief alphabet a change of positions occurs from the place behind the camera to the place in front of it. A movement which brings about a peculiar perspective.

Aïda Ruilova took part in numerous group exhibitions at diverse galleries and art institutions, among others in Casino 2001, S.M.A.K., Gent (2001); Clandestines, 50th Venice Biennial (2003); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2004); 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2006); Pensée Sauvage, Kunstverein Frankfurt (2007); 2nd Moscow Biennial (2007); Between Two Deaths, ZKM, Karlsruhe (2007); Sympathy for the Devil, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2007). Solo shows of Aïda Ruilova were presented at various galleries and art institutions, for example at White Columns, New York (2000); Salon 94, New York (2002, 2007); Galleria Francesca Kaufmann, Milan (2006); The Kitchen, New York (2007). In 2008 and 2009 a series of solo exhibitions by Ruilova will be shown at several museums in the USA, among others at Aspen Art Museum (May – August 2008); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (September 2008 – January 2009); Contemporary Art Center New Orleans (April – July 2009); Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (September 2009 – January 2010).

only in german

Aida Ruilova