“The story is…” begins the text that accompanies Rosa Aiello’s solo show Seduction at Lodos in Mexico City. The text is mostly a description of Untitled (cardboard) (2019), a hastily-repaired cardboard wall that divides one of the gallery’s two corridors and forces a particular narrative path on the viewer: first past the Lodos office, then to a room filled with The Victim, configuration of 28 (2019), an archive of standard-sized photos tacked to the gallery’s walls and Xerox paper affixed to the Untitled (cardboard) (2019). The photos are of little girls getting their ears pierced at Claire’s, sitting down smiling with their mothers, screaming and crying as their ears are pierced, finally with wet-faced looks of resignation as their mothers look on, proud, pensive, or shocked by her daughter’s pain. The Xerox paper is cut out with scissors in inexact rectangles, one with a list of verbs in what looks like Chalkboard font (“rotate, complain, moan, leave”), another with what appears to be quote from one of those rape manuals like The Game, with the word “victim” inexpertly highlighted.
The path dictated by (cardboard)—there is no other way to see the exhibition, a marked contrast from the usually open layout of white box galleries, where the viewer is free to choose a course—continues to a corridor peppered by nine photographs. These photographs, Seduction (Coventry Hills), series of 9 (2019), are more professionally presented, framed in metal, but the photographs themselves seem terribly composed, like somebody was in a car randomly taking photos from their digital camera. The photos peek at an anonymous, gray suburban development, from an embanked road. There are unfocused glimpses of roofs, windows, snow. On the bottom of the frame, relatively easy to miss, is clear tape with text printed on it, more quotes that seem lifted from The Game: “Create a False Sense of Security: Approach Indirectly.” At this point, the sound of metal train wheels screeching starts to become more present and more irritating.
The sound is coming from The Coquette (2018), a video projected onto (cardboard). Three short red plastic stools sit in a tight line in front of the “screen.” The high production quality of the video contrasts starkly with the cardboard it is projected onto. The video begins with an almost comical date scene, the typical powerful, boring white dude who controls most cultural production, as usual blathering on about nothing in this sort of faux-authoritative way that they do, with a woman artfully avoiding saying anything. It ends with the protagonist convincing the two men who won’t leave her alone—the boring gallery owner, let’s say, who touches her on the neck, on the hand, and says I really like you; and the desperate artist, let’s say, who grabs her by the shoulders and shakes her and says I need you—to kill each other. Her plot doesn’t work. The video fills the coalesces the apparently shoddy, disjointed elements of the show into a single jarring narrative horror. When I was young, I had a repeating dream where I was in the back seat of a car and the driver would disappear. The feeling was similar. The story is: sometimes it is impossible to escape.