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Mika Rottenberg & Jon Kessler Wanna Make You Sweat

June 1, 2012

How do artists make the intangible tangible? In this film, SEVEN (2011)—a collaborative work by the artists Mika Rottenberg and Jon Kessler commissioned by the New York-based performance biennial Performa—is performed for the last time at Nicole Klagsbrun Project space.

Over the course of three weeks, several times a day, seven performers clock in, ride a stationary bike, and work up a sweat before a live audience in an immersive sculptural installation. Each of the seven performers represents a particular chakra—cosmic energy centers located within the body—and are ascribed corresponding prismatic colors of the rainbow, resulting in chromatic sweat. The sweat is collected in a sauna-like “Chakra Juicer,” distilled by a self-described mad scientist in a laboratory, and metaphorically transported to the African savannah.

Rottenberg explains how she wants her performers to not act or emote, being more interested in how their bodies behave and the physical materials she can extract from their exertions. Performing in sync with a video featuring a rural community in Botswana, Rottenberg and Kessler’s project unites laborers in New York with “the cradle of humankind” through timed exchanges of materials and a common purpose. Playfully absurd, Rottenberg and Kessler blend reality and fiction—extreme conditions and comedic sleights-of-hand—to create a zany, wordless narrative.

More information and credits


Art21 New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough. Cinematography: Rafael Moreno Salazar & Ava Wiland. Sound: Eric Diebner, Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long. Design & Graphics: Crux Studio & Open. Artwork: Jon Kessler & Mika Rottenberg. Additional Camera & Sound (SEVEN): Steve Hamilton (Technical Consultant), Alex Lemke (Special Effects), Erik Mitgartz (2D Animation), Ronen Nagel (Re-recording Mixer), Mickey Roth (3D Animation), Nati Taub (Sound Designer), Mahyad Tousi (Cinematography) & Richard Uren (Camera Assistant). Thanks: Empress Asia, Yona Backer, Natalie Campbell, Marshall Factora, Roselee Goldberg, Esteban Jefferson, Nicole Klagsbrun, Jason Liles, Chris McGinn, Esa Nickle, Performa, Cecil Parker, Sunita Sharma, Juan Valanzuela & Alex Wynne. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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Mika Rottenberg

Mika Rottenberg was born in 1976 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, was raised in Tel Aviv, Israel, and now lives and works in upstate New York. Working in video, installation, and sculpture, Rottenberg is interested in making reality blend with her personal fiction; she features women with unconventional bodies in performances about labor, production, and the psychological implications of physical existence. The artist describes her art as trying to capture the abstract experience of being alive and to transform it into a tangible object.

Jon Kessler

Jon Kessler was born in 1957 in Yonkers, New York, and lives and works in New York City. Kessler creates multimedia sculptures, which he describes as “chaotic kinetic installations” that critique our highly-surveilled world and dependence on technology.

Collaborative Performance

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Laurie Simmons

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