Julika Rudelius at Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam (2001-02)

Lisa Holden, R.J. Preece
artdesigncafé - art | 15 September 2009
This review first appeared in Make, 92, page 47 in 2002.

Julika Rudelius at Stedelijk Museum Bureau

Is she the Jerry Springer of the art world? That’s the question raised with the solo Talkshow by Julika Rudelius, an exhibition of four videoworks showing exhibitionist twenty-somethings. Drawing on a TV documentary style and borrowing from popular culture, Rudelius presents the group dynamics of the “boys” and the “girls”, and their interaction—what they choose to reveal and what they try to hide.

Julika Rudelius organises plausible situations and those based on ones that she’s actually observed, and she finds appropriate real-life subjects to act out— or naturally play— the part. Fact/fiction reigns in the works, while she also condenses these situations to focus on casual gestures and clichéd phrases.

For boys behaving badly, the clichés play out on a night Train (2001) as they brag about their (hetero)sexual exploits: “Some women are only good for fucking… No, admit it, it’s true”. But macho-posturing rapidly deteriorates into insecurity and jealousy (“Did you fuck her too?”).

Now onto the “girls” in Plush (2001). Presented on three pedestal-mounted monitors arranged back-to-back in a tight circle, viewers listen to an aspiring Stepford wife fantasising about Mr. Right and suburban marital bliss, yearning for “… a really average family. Nothing too spectacular… and marriage is certainly part of that.” With viewers circling like a merry-go-round, the three monitors appear to show the same girl, same clothes, in what could be the same bedroom. But something’s not quite right—actually three girls, not one. Collectively brainwashed triplets—or next generation Dolly-clones? Their tone is tinged with desperation—so far, real life has fallen short.

Clearly these boys and girls are a match made in heaven— extras in Julika Rudelius’s 50s-rerun nightmare. But where exactly is the artist’s position to the subjects— as presented in this work? This we’re not sure about, but ask Jerry. He’ll know.