As in the past, Rottenberg’s latest effort explores the realm of cause and effect, combining David Lynch’s surrealism with Rube Goldberg–type contraptions. “Bowls Balls Souls Holes” takes visitors past a variety of kinetic sculptures made from everyday items before ushering them toward a looping 28-minute video. The film, shot in an uptown SRO hotel and bingo hall, as well as on a distant glacier, comments on magnetic fields, the rise of temperatures worldwide and the exigencies of luck.
The results constitute a kind of disjointed allegory. We see an occupant of the aforementioned hotel readying for work by generating energy through toes covered in aluminum foil. She symbolizes the sun, apparently. She’s also the announcer at the bingo hall, where she receives telepathic instructions from another woman: a sleepwalker responding to the noise of a dripping air conditioner. She represents the moon.
As the plot progresses, the announcer drops colored clothespins into a hole, where they’re mechanically conveyed to a man who attaches them to his face. He begins to spin frantically, then disappears. The pins become scattered across the melting ice sheet, which is somehow connected to the faulty AC. Odd and engaging, Rottenberg’s work resembles a waking dream (or nightmare), in which climate change becomes a game we can’t possibly win.—Paul Laster