Accompanied by an uncustomarily brief press release, the Israeli visual artist Keren Cytter makes her pithy but absorptive debut at Jenny’s with the three-work show titled “Bad Words.” Cytter makes multilayered, multimedia work that spills sparsely yet richly across the gallery’s small space. In fact, the room is barely enough to hold her work: trawling through the artist’s oeuvre reveals everything from a website to a trove of nested HTML links, from Vimeo art works to skeins of found poetry.
At Jenny’s, an almost-square colored-pencil and pen-on-paper work titled Wallpaper (2021) depicts, well, a sheet of wallpaper. Cytter’s invests a great degree of care into drawing this piece of banal media—which simultaneously marks individual habitats with a mass-produced style—rendering it oddly poignant. Elsewhere, the disgraced shock rock icon Marilyn Manson makes multiple appearances, including in Justin Bieber T-Shirt (2021), a work that seems to proclaim, through its language, palette and symbology, that both Manson and the pop star are “bigger than Satan.”
One work’s title is owed its own exegesis: Bad Words or when you wake up and realize that you are late to your job interview with your best friend’s ex and you are not a lesbian but the product of a patriarchal society that’s conditioned you to see women as sex objects (2021). In a string of images and clips that look suspiciously like they were made on Windows Movie Maker, Manson’s vaguely terrifying face floats over the screen. In another scene, God texts, “DID YOU SEE THAT?” before sending a movie.
Cytter’s show may by compact, yet the three works on view touch upon massive themes: contemporary alienation, the role of language in both communication and isolation, and the way that humans navigate the foreign systems they themselves have created. —Lisa Yin Zhang
Keren Cytter, Bad Words or when you wake up and realize that you are late to your job interviewwith your best friend’s ex and you are not a lesbian but the product of a patriarchal society that’s conditioned you to see women as sex objects (still), 2021. HD video, 9 min 35 sec. Image courtesy Keren Cytter and Jenny’s