Former Le Tigre Member’s Stuttering Sexuality


Starting in the eighth grade, Le Tigre co-founder Sadie Benning crafted audiocassettes of spliced sound using a boom box and turntable. Referred to as “play/pause” cassette tapes, they fluctuate wildly in tone, sampling from disco anthems, rhythm-and-soul instrumentation, and other genres in repetitious fits of starts and stops. According to the artist, they were initially created to irritate family members, but subsequently the tapes’ sonic amalgam of diverse pop influences became audio diaries of an adolescent grappling with self-awareness.

Transferred to records that play from a turn-table in the center of Orchard’s front gallery, these “play/pause” cassette tapes offer a soundtrack to Benning’s evocatively unwieldy solo exhibition, “Form of a Waterfall.” The sole video work, One Liner, shot on a Pixelvision camera, is deceptively titled. Hardly a one-liner at all, it’s a grainy black-and-white video of a mark being drawn on paper, set to disjointed musical selections. The line bulges where the pen rests—not perfectly straight, but a bit askew.

A series of untitled drawings, aesthetically inspired by ’80s arcade games, is similarly complex and unsettling—the playfully adolescent, candied coloration chafes against their geometric rigidity. The imminent collision between rectangular shafts and rounded, supple forms conveys a stuttering sexuality.

According to the press release, the exhi- bition takes its title from the animated TV series The Wonder Twins, in which the characters transform into different objects using the command “Form of a _____!” The exhibition tries awkwardly to give shape to the shapelessness of sexual fumbling, but the clumsiness is not a bad thing: Sexuality is often awkward. Though the drawings are just as complex without a soundtrack, the eclectic musical offerings provide compelling contexts. There’s a visceral pleasure in changing the records in the gallery and listening to them for the first time; they play with the malleability of experience, the fickleness of mood. Benning said that creating the drawings left her in a trance—a trance that will leave the viewer with much to untangle.