Deville Cohen

Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at 5pm

Fine Arts Building Gallery
1000 W. Broad St.

Deville Cohen’s performance-based photographs and videos use black-and-white Xerox images as integral elements in their mise-en-scène. Sets, characters, and props become entangled in psychic dramas saturated with humor, desire, and anxiety.

The protagonists of POISON, an 8-ball and a die, meet at a gas station and hit the road, encountering various natural and man-made scenes, composed entirely of photocopies, paperclips, ladders, and other improvisations. Cohen has cast various colors of lace to portray oil, water, and blood, vital liquids that are generated, collected and depleted as the piece unfolds. Taking a cue from Shakespeare’s tragedies in which malice serves as a dramatic tool and functions as a nearly sculptural substance, Cohen’s POISON flows with sensuous fluidity.

The fragility of Cohen’s built environments reflects the essentially collapsible, arbitrary nature of human logic and relations. The impromptu emptiness of black-box theater serves as a model, though in Cohen’s work the camera replaces the audience and thus shifts the focus from performed authenticity to perceived aesthetics. For Cohen, the camera frame transforms the three-dimensional stage from a tactile and active space into a sculpted image, a compressed and reconstructed picture of reality.  In those staged realities, where objects are the characters, and human beings perform the forces that animate them, Cohen addresses the immediate and sometimes superficial relationship we have to everyday objects– what meanings and values we imbue in them, and how we use them to curate the way we want to be perceived. In a series of events that resemble a time based collage, Cohen deconstructs and rearranges images and objects into a system that meditates on the logic that shapes our understanding and appreciation of the real.  Cohen creates works that are clearly handmade, but nonetheless visually and structurally complex.

Deville Cohen (born in Tel Aviv, Israel, 1977) lives and works in New York, NY. He received his MFA from Bard College in 2010. His work was included in Greater New York, 2010, PS1, NY; Stagecraft, University of South Florida Institute for Research in Art, 2011; BOMBbash, Marlborough Chelsea, 2011;  D. COHEN, A KOSCHMEIDER, J. WINTER, Foxy Production, 2011; POISON, Louis B James (solo); and Campaign at C24, among others.

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