By Michele Bregande, The Fabric Workshop and Museum
The Fabric Workshop and Museum’s (FWM) current exhibitions, Daniel Arsham: Reach Ruin and Daniel Arsham X Jonah Bokaer: Study for Occupant (on view until March 17, 2013) was critically debated as part of The Review Panel Philadelphia, a yearly series of four panel discussions hosted by Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in association with artcritical.com. The moderator, New York critic and arts writer David Cohen, was joined by panelists’ Bobbi Booker, Judith Stein, and Christian Viveros-Fauné for the February 6th discussion.
All were in agreement that Arsham is an ambitious artist. Bobbi Booker, award-winning Philadelphia-based journalist, was transfixed by the Study for Occupant performance video and installation. She thought the effect of the glowing blue light throughout the space and from the video of the dancers’ performance, choreographed by Arsham’s frequent collaborator Jonah Bokaer, playing at one end of the gallery was spiritually touching. The components used during the live performances remain installed on the museum’s floor, such as the worn plaster cameras used by the choreographer and dancers to create the circular floor pattern during the rehearsals and performances on December 14, 15, and 16, 2012. Booker, in viewing the exhibition, was stirred to create and actually wanted to pick up a piece of plaster and begin working.
Writer and curator Judith Stein associated Arsham’s Reach Ruin 8th floor installation, Storm, to Bill Viola’s Ocean Without a Shore, one of the other installations discussed during the evening, as water is central to both works. Arsham’s Storm was described by Stein as a theatrical piece of art that portrays the overpowering destructive power of water, heightened by the cascading orchestral sounds of Mozart’s Requiem.
New York-based art critic/curator Christian Viveros-Fauné also commented on the theatrical element in Arsham’s work and his wraparound use of architecture, which Arsham describes in his Snarkitecture practice as performing the unexpected. Viveros-Fauné responded to the many damaged columns used in the installation Reach Ruin, and noted had there been less, the columns would feel more like sculpture rather than an environment. He also thought, and all panelists agreed, that Arsham’s creativity comes from many influences, including a theatrical approach, and that Arsham’s stage design has a positive influence on his work.
The participation of multidisciplinary artist Daniel Arsham in the Museum’s renowned Artist-in-Residence Program is due to the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Arts Challenge. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge is a $9 million initiative funding innovative projects that encourage and enrich Philadelphia’s communities.
Daniel Arsham: Reach Ruin, and Daniel Arsham X Jonah Bokaer: Study for Occupant is on view at FWM until March, 17 2013.