Michael Portnoy: Casino Ilinx
Drawing on gambling's roots in ritual and divination, Portnoy's tables are constructed of high and low materials including wood, mirror, sand, felt, bone, brass, vinyl, and shell. Influenced by gaming devices from various cultures and times, Portnoy's objects take on a life of their own. When activated by games, the stylized sculptural pieces trigger experimental and experiential situations for the study of human behavior. "Rules" are imparted through riddles and gestures interpreted by players of each game. The rules and language associated with each piece shift constantly, challenging the viewer's interaction with individual objects leading to dysfunctional, intimate, and absurd situations.
Portnoy explains, "the tables are supposed to be seductive, they appear like games that have been around for a long time for which no one was taught the rules. But the more closely you look, you see that the basic mechanisms of chance -- the role of the dice -- are compromised. You can't roll the dice, at least not in the way you are used to."
A new addition to Portnoy's repertoire of gambling tables isTongue Pit (Linguistic Table), played within a perimeter of black sand. This particular game is composed of cryptic symbols and fragments of alphabets inspired from disappeared or endangered languages. These linguistic components are assembled into a frieze or disassembled to create a series of three-dimensional playing elements that form, in the words of the artist, "architectonic morphemes." Glass dice are rolled to provide clues for possible configurations. The total scope of the game is revealed in the presence of the Director of Behavior.
As a whole, Casino Ilinx is composed of a series of moments, surprises, dead ends, and trap doors. The viewer must negotiate sporadic performers, sculptures such as a rabid cube, a squirrel escort, and other opaque symbols and rules. Casino Ilinx will be activated by scheduled and intermittent performances and gaming sessions throughout the exhibition. During exhibition opening visitors will be greeted by two "bouncers" and ushered into the gambling room. A croupier will lead each of Portnoy's three abstract tables, instructing, coaxing, and hustling viewers into action.
Ilinx is defined by the sociologist Roger Caillois as a category of play that involves the pursuit of vertigo. Ilinx games "attempt to momentarily destroy the stability of perception and inflict a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind." The exhibition Casino Illinx is a journey into a fictional game structure, constantly dissembled and rebuilt by the artist with the complicity of the players and fellow performers.
Michael Portnoy is a New York based multimedia artist. His diverse work spans dance, theater, experimental stand-up, and meta-functional sculpture. He has presented work in museums, galleries, theaters, and music halls internationally, including: ACE Gallery, Canada Gallery, Le Confort Moderne (Poitiers), Dexter Sinister, Deitch Projects, EFA Gallery, Kaaitheater (Brussels), The Kitchen, Kling & Bang Gallery (Reykjavik), Kunsthalle St Gallen Foksal Gallery Foundation (Warsaw), The Migros Museum (Zurich), The Moscow Biennial, The National Review of Live Art (Glasgow), P.S. 1/MOMA, The Grammy Awards at Radio City Music Hall, SculptureCenter, Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm), ThreeAsFour fashion shows, and White Box.
On Thursday, May 29, at 7pm
Michael Portnoy Presents: Milk the Weasel, Pull the Rug
Director of Behavior Michael Portnoy and special guests open the tables for gambling sessions. Accompanied by a card counting demonstration by Melissa Brown, a lecture on the acceleration and collapse of time by Adina Popescu, and a presentation on dice-footed animals and pre-Columbian dermatology by Marianne Vitale.