Lea Cetera: Chassis | Phyilida Reid

The titular work in this exhibition is fascinatingly described in the show notes. It’s a “motor-powered gyroscopic structure based on a rotocasting machine”, in which a small transparent figurine is pinned between steel frames, and periodically spun around.

It’s a hypnotic work, most powerful when the growly motor stops. Contained in this (female) plastic body are red and blue liquids, that combine to form a purple goo, that mostly settles wherever the figurine is angled during the rest periods, but leaves the odd spatter in the areas above the watermark.

Lea Cetera - Chassis (2022)

Lea Cetera, based in New York, examines “bodily fragmentation and objectification”, the notes add, though the viewer will certainly have guessed that based on the other video works on show. Giant Cuttlefish, Giant Conch and Rainbow Lobster show these grand beasts of the sea helpless on the fishmonger’s slab, being cut up for parts, destined for some posh restaurant table.

These videos, sourced by Cetera from YouTube, are overlaid with grimly humorous words and phrases, my favourite being the simplest: SWIM. To add to the sense of threat, the screens are partially obscured by brightly coloured metal grilles.

In this way, the artist shows how the organic can be circumscribed and contained by the man-made and the mechanical: knife, frame, motor. But the bright colours of the grilles and liquid keep things from being too grim. It’s a memorably chipper presentation of a depressing message.

Lea Cetera: Chassis is at Phillida Reid (London). 02 September - 01 October 2022