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'Sizzling Hot' by Rosa Lüders at 14a, Hamburg

The casino is a venerable institution and an allegory for the pursuit of success in which cruelty and venality are rewarded, and weakness is exploited. Capable of bestowing unfathomable rewards to those willing to take a chance. However, more often than not, the slot machine will drag its player’s wishful soul to hell and burn their money in the purgatorial arena of winning, losing, luck and risk. Regardless of the odds being stacked against the player, the slot machine retains its status as a place where everyone has the opportunity to make their fortune. Gambling depends on luck rather than skill; its outcome is influenced by a randomizing device and all attempts to beat the generator are made in the face of potential loss. Chance is brutal, shiny, dirty - yet above everything, it’s random. 

Rosa Lüders sorts through a pool of iconography taken mainly from popular gambling games, exploring the ambiguous double-nature of these symbols and the iridescence of winning and the inferno of loss. Lemons, bugs, flowers; drawn from various game series, the exhibited works present a range of reassembled symbols in silver setting boxes. Folded, bent and embossed, the gleaming materiality of these aluminium works has a magnetic radiance - an ability to dazzle - mirroring that of the slot machine and its player’s frenzy. Notwithstanding its shimmer and glow, the works hold a stark and formal quality. In attaching these symbols to the boxes they become a site for exploring how desires materialize while becoming accessible in the realm of enjoyment and randomness. Until you lose. 

The rare moment of winning is celebrated in the assembled tree on view (Sizzling Hot, 2023). The tree’s silver branches are filled with various fruits hanging in winning combinations, as deemed by the slot machine’s generator. Lüders’ approach complements the playfulness of such arbitrary combinations. Aluminium functions as a substitute for precious material like silver, symbolising prosperity and wealth, while at the same time being shaped effortlessly into a tree, cigarette lighters or machines. In her practice, Lüders liberates the pictorial motifs from their strong symbolism, leading them back to various narrative levels of chance. Thus expanding the spectrum of possible interpretations. 

7 7 7
— While spinning the slots over and over again — 3 red number 7s line up in a row and burst into flames. You’ve won. Spin again. Sizzling Hot offers a maximum payout of 1000 times the player’s stake when playing on the maximum bet. To achieve this jackpot, the player must hit a series of 3 roses on a payline. Good Luck. 

— Simone Curaj 

13.4.23 — 20.5.23

Photo by Fred Dott


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