Trisha Baga’s busy, multifaceted show “Orlando” featured one text projection, two 3-D video installations, five portraits composed of seeds, 56 ceramic sculptures, and a mind-numbing array of visual information. For a show that was a metaphor for how, in the digital age, we want to have it all, the presentation felt only right.
The setting was an imagined scenario in which Orlando, the Florida city, has been flooded and destroyed by an environmental disaster. Baga, who is never content to let one idea mean only one thing, also used the show’s title to refer to the Virginia Woolf novel of the same name. That book is about a hermaphroditic English poet, who was depicted here in the form of a glazed-ceramic sculpture.
Each of the ceramic works resembled an uncovered artifact, unevenly glazed as though dirtied over time. The soft lighting and tall pedestals evoked museum displays dedicated to dead civilizations. The sculpted versions of Crocs, Doritos, and iMacs formed a kind of archaeology of the early 21st century.
The show’s information overload reached a fever pitch with the 34-minute 3-D video MS Orlando (2015), which featured a dog prancing through the woods, a car wash, a digital rendering of Picasso’s Guernica, a hokey dance routine, iMessage conversations, and Baga herself painting on the camera lens, among many other things. If her use of the soundtrack from Interstellar and the vaguely nautical title are hints, this video, a wild capper to a loaded show, may be about traveling from one place to the next and becoming something different in between: 2-D painting becomes 3-D video; one Google Chrome browser tab leads to another; a dirty car gets washed and comes out clean. Nothing stays the same in Baga’s world, and clearly that’s not a bad thing for her.
A version of this story originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 76.