Marcel Dzama, Polytropos of Many Turns (2009), installation view. All photos by D. Terna, Art Observed.
Canadian-born artist Marcel Dzama debuts his latest film, “A Game of Chess” in his sixth solo exhibition at David Zwirner. The exhibition Behind Every Curtain is on view through March 19, and the three-tiered exhibition of drawings, dioramas, and motorized sculptures provide both a prelude to Dzama’s film as well as a record of the artistic process behind it. And while Dzama’s work has always been characterized by a fairy-tale like violence, both “A Game of Chess” and the pieces leading up to it seem to take a much darker and sinister turn than do Dzama’s previous exhibitions.
Installation view of the film, A Game of Chess.
More text and images after the jump…
Marcel Dzama, The Queen [La Reina] (2011) via Daniel Terna.
In the first room of the exhibition viewers are met with three monumental sculptures—The Rook [La Torre] (2011), Polytropos of many turns (2009), and The Queen [La Reina] (2011)—rotating in battle formation twelve or so inches above the ground. The deliberate placement of the sculptures across the gallery floor (or game board, perhaps) channel the audience through the space, directing viewers’ attention to Dzama’s elaborately rendered drawings. Working upon tapestries of sketchbook pages, stage notes, and even piano scrolls, Dzama’s graphite, ink, and watercolor drawings reveal bizarre characters engaged in dystopian warfare. As the raw motors of the turning sculptures are revealed, so is Dzama’s own handwriting, preliminary notes, and sketches. The drawings reveal clues to a mysterious conflict and provide both a narrative and overture to the film itself.
From his epic, high-detailed paper dioramas to the live mariachi band providing the film’s score, Dzama’s machine aesthetic echoes throughout the entire exhibition. Projected across an entire wall, “A Game of Chess” is violent, whimsical, and well-informed by cinematic history and constructivist theory.
Marcel Dzama, Turning into Puppets (2011), installation view.
“Behind Every Curtain” balances the chaos of war with the artistic process itself, and Marcel Dzama carries out his battles with the grace and deliberation of a game of chess.
Installation view of Polytropos of Many Turns (2009) and The Rook [La Torre] (2011).
Marcel Dzama, A Night, A Knightt, A Rookt, A Guestt, A Hostt, A Ghost. (2010). Via David Zwirner
Marcel Dzama, Winnipeg Was Won, Winnipeg was One (2011). Via David Zwirner
“A Game of Chess” Feature Trailer