Rib Gets In the Way

Steve Reinke

2014 | 00:52:15 | Canada / United States | English | Stereo | 16:9 | HD video

Collection: Single Titles

Tags: Animation, Autobiography, Found Footage, LGBTQ, Language, Visual Art

Steve Reinke has long been lauded for his irreverent, philosophical, and often acerbic works, which typically adopt the form of personal essays to wryly bend and reread wide-ranging topics, from pop culture, to sex, to theories of visual perception and beyond. Reinke’s video, included in the 2014 Biennial, Rib Gets in the Way, is narrated in the first person by Reinke, and addresses mortality, the body, the archive, and the embodiment of a life’s work.

The final and longest section of the video presents an animated children’s adaptation of Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophical novel Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883–85). Explaining the motivation behind this long-planned project, Reinke notes, “Nietzsche is the only fun, reasonable way out of any moral or political quagmire.” The hand-drawn animations in this and earlier sections of the video are by Jessie Mott, a visual artist and writer whose work consistently engages a menagerie of human, animal, and celestial forms, and with whom Reinke has collaborated on several previous videos.

— 2014 Whitney Biennial

"I trust artists who upset me. I like to feel confused. There is so much I don’t know, and so much to learn. This was my way of mind after watching the fifty-three minutes of Steve Reinke’s video Rib Gets In the Way at the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The important survey of contemporary American art features a record number of Chicago artists, including Reinke, a professor of art at Northwestern University who premiered an epic, unsettling video artwork. It is essentially a nature documentary—human nature, that is. Narrating with the cadence and candor of Carl Sagan, Reinke tours the black market of the soul. Behold, he seems to say, this is how to make art as a prophylaxis against death. I wish my review could solely be about Reinke’s video, for the more I revisit it, the more it wrenches my brain and heart. There is so much art to like in this edition of the Whitney Biennial, a packed exhibition with as many points of entry as there are complicated objects. Reinke’s video exemplifies a type of emotional intelligence demanded by many of the works on display."

— Jason Foumberg, New City

"Homoerotics dovetail with brilliant philosophizing in the wild 53-minute video Rib Gets in the Way (Final Thoughts, Series Three), 2014, by Steve Reinke with Jessie Mott."

— Brooks Adams, Art in America

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Whitney Biennial
New York, NY