A finger probes an open mouth, circling the lips and touching the teeth’s hard edges. One tooth left of center juts out, untamed by orthodontics, making the mouth look even more open by exposing an extra sliver of its blackness in the back. Aïda Ruilova’s IMMORAL TALES (2014), shot on Super-16mm film and transferred to video, is a portrait of an orifice. The 44-second loop contains other, shorter loops within it, as the finger compulsively traces the mouth’s slack O, and ragged breaths come in and out in harshly amplified rasps. In her previous films, Ruilova has used sound and editing to create the sort of suspense found in horror movies, intensified by their short form and removal from narrative. Here she employs her technique to produce erotic but still vaguely ominous effects. Other works in “The Pink Palace,” Ruilova’s first show at Marlborough, further elaborate the connection of sex and fear through representations of holes and flesh. Posters for European horror movies and pornography of the 1960s and ’70s feature breasts, legs and fetishized body parts partially obscured by floral patterns that Ruilova has introduced. From a distance one might think the black forms are stenciled on, but closer inspection reveals that they’ve been cut out to expose the black velvet that the posters are mounted on. The thickly warm texture of the velvet emerges through the thinness of the posters as if through an open mouth that discloses the darkness of the body’s interior. —Brian Droitcour
Pictured: View of Aïda Ruilova: The Pink Palace. Courtesy Marlborough Chelsea, New York.