press release

“Director of Behavior” and performance artist since 1995, Portnoy’s long-standing investigation of the poetics of humor and the rules of communication and play, takes form in Casino Ilinx as a series of gambling tables and related sculptures.

Drawing on gambling's roots in ritual and divination, Portnoy’s tables are constructed of high and low materials including wood, mirror, sand, felt, bone, brass, vinyl, and shell. Influenced by gaming devices from various cultures and times, Portnoy’s objects take on a life of their own. When activated by games, the stylized sculptural pieces trigger experimental and experiential situations for the study of human behavior. "Rules" are imparted through riddles and gestures interpreted by players of each game. The rules and language associated with each piece shift constantly, challenging the viewer’s interaction with individual objects leading to dysfunctional, intimate, and absurd situations.

Portnoy explains, "the tables are supposed to be seductive, they appear like games that have been around for a long time for which no one was taught the rules. But the more closely you look, you see that the basic mechanisms of chance -- the role of the dice -- are compromised. You can’t roll the dice, at least not in the way you are used to."

Casino Ilinx is composed of a series of moments, surprises, dead ends, and trap doors. The viewer must negotiate sporadic performers, sculptures such as a rabid cube, a squirrel escort, and other opaque symbols and rules. Casino Ilinx will be activated by scheduled and intermittent performances and gaming sessions throughout the exhibition.

only in german

Michael Portnoy
Casino Ilinx

Kurator: Sarina Basta