Yve Laris Cohen's recent work takes the literal materials of traditional dance and visual art spaces--the specialized floors, the distinctly colored walls--and uses them as both the stuff and subject of his visual and performance work. Some of these displacements arose from necessity--the installation of a sprung surface to accommodate jumping on the concrete floor of a gallery. But the floor did not stay on the floor. It crept up onto the wall, and its use began to exceed the functional:
"At the time of Coda I was beginning to negotiate my work’s positioning in both visual art and dance economies. Floors and walls with black and white patinas, respectively, were useful visual synecdoches for “black box” and “white cube”—themselves synecdoches for not only the theatrical space and the exhibition space, but for dance and visual art as fields and economies. Working with white wall as a material, something important to my current work, was the next step in this progression.
Laris Cohen reflects more broadly on the phenomenon of dance's incorporation into the visual art landscape and the experience of practicing at the meeting point of these two sites:
"The art world’s incorporation of dance is moving very quickly; the terms have even shifted since Coda in early 2012. I have not participated in the one-way migration “from the theater into the museum”; I was starting to make work when this process was already—albeit newly—under way, and my practice was never situated solely in one site or the other. I benefit from this renewed interest in dance and visual art performance, but I’m not wild about some of the institutional modifications to the “white cube” made in an effort to accommodate dance. Accommodation is the wrong strategy.
Like many visual artists, Laris Cohen is using dance as one of many materials within his work. However, again, his approach is distinct. It is common for visual artists to insert dance into a framework that has been conceptualized independently of an active dance practice, asking the dancer be the guide to the use of movement within the work. Laris Cohen usually creates work using his own body, even understanding the making of the work itself as performance. Referencing ballet, he speak of using the form "because it is a language I can speak." The resource of a physical language and treatment of performance as creative process moves dance into and through visual art spaces in ways that Laris Cohen ties to various dance histories. All the while, however, he rejects a positioning of his work "between" spaces, between dance and visual art, reaching instead for the less stable "transitions of among, within, and elsewhere."
As part of Critical Correspondence's ongoing Dance and the Museum project, we point you to an interview of Yve Laris Cohen by Jenny Jaskey for Mousse Magazine. http://moussemagazine.it/articolo.mm?id=1085.
All quotations above from "Among, Within and Elsewhere" by Jenny Jaskey.
Photo by Karl Rabe, courtesy of the artist. Yve Laris Cohen, opening, from "Landing Field: Vito Acconci and Yve Laris Cohen" at Hessel Museum of Art, Centre for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY, 2013.
Abigail Levine, Dance and the Museum, Jenny Jaskey, Of Note Elsewhere, visual art, Yve Laris Cohen