MULTIDISCIPLINARY artist Daniel Arsham, currently in residence at the Philadelphia Fabric Workshop and Museum, and his frequent collaborator/choreographer Jonah Bokaer come together for a rare live performance here this weekend.
"Study for Occupant" will feature stage materials created by Arsham and a dance performance choreographed and presented by Bokaer. A film of the performance will be on display with Arsham's current exhibition at the Fabric Workshop, "Reach Ruin," which continues through mid-March.
Arsham was drawn to the Fabric Workshop in part because of its "mission to encourage artists to break outside of their preferred medium or experiment in other techniques," he said. Breaking through barriers is a cornerstone of Arsham's endeavors, which touch on art, architecture, dance and theater.
Arsham has worked with notable names such as designer Hedi Slimane of fashion houses Dior Homme and Saint Laurent Paris, and he cofounded the creative architecture practice Snarkitecture, which is creating two large public art pieces for Miami's new Florida Marlins Park.
"Arsham is known for subverting existing architectural structures in unconventional, playful ways: facades appear to billow in the wind, figures seem wrapped beneath the wall's surface," according to the Fabric Workshop website. "His cross-disciplinary practice, historical inquiry, and satirical wit combine into an ongoing interrogation of the real and the imagined."
Arsham described "Reach Ruin" as "the largest exhibition I have done in terms of scale, and I have been able to achieve things with this show that I haven't been able to do in the past."
It covers multiple floors, transforming the facility into a habitat dedicated to destruction and illusion, two themes that are consistent throughout Arsham's work.
On the ground floor, visitors meet "Hollow Figure," a sculpture that captures a white sheet of fabric violently blown across the outline of a figure. Yet when visitors walk around the back, there is no figure to be found.
"Storm" is a hole built into the museum's wall with broken glass that looks like crystals growing out of it. The multisensory piece replicates the experience of a storm and invites people to follow the seven-minute progression of light, sound, and wind as it builds up into a hurricane.
"I have taken this material that is broken, and reformed it back into objects with purpose," Arsham said. "Reach Ruin," which the artist pointed out is an anagram of the word hurricane, "is based around this notion of architecture in a state of movement, architecture that is doing things it's not supposed to do."