Mika Rottenberg (b. 1976)

Fried Sweat (2008)
Tropical Breeze (2004)
Mary's Cherries (2004)
Dough (2005–2006)
Cheese (2007)
Fried Sweat (2008)
Squeeze (2010)
5 Second Party (2011)
Seven with Jon Kessler (2011)

Video installation artist Mika Rottenberg envisions the female body as a microcosm of larger societal issues such as labor and class inequities. In her short films, women cast for their notable physical features and talents perform perfunctory factory-line duties, manufacturing inane items worth less than the labor required to make them. Her homemade machinery and decor are functional but crudely constructed. These contraptions, operating by pedal, conveyor belt, paddle, rubber band, or string, are reminiscent of Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s kinetic props, though the human interaction in her works adds a carnivalesque element to Rottenberg’s environments, the physical comedy implicit in her narratives recalling Eleanor Antin’s filmed performances. The bright colors of Rottenberg’s self-contained sets don’t disguise the close quarters in which her characters work or mitigate the sense of claustrophobia induced by a dead-end job. A blue-collar work ethic is conjured through the women’s uniforms, ranging from diner-waitress dresses to jogging suits. Her cast often use several body parts at once, reminding the viewer of the feminine capacity for multitasking while it suggests an ironic futility in her sweatshop-like situations.