Marcel Dzama's Behind Every Curtain brings to life the artist's magical world of a balletic and murderous game of chess. Upon entering David Zwirner's 525 West 19th Street space, visitors are greeted by a series of Dzama's detailed, richly colored drawings and three twirling sculptures—two large-scale chess pieces, a rook and the White Queen, and a life-size, masked, female assassin. The next room presents a group of pain-stakingly detailed dioramas and a whimsical carousel of charming, retro-looking puppets made from tin and ceramics (Turning into Puppets [Volviendose Marionetas], 2011) flailing their limbs and clanking away as they revolve in a circle. The final, darkened room shows Dzama's fourteen-minute film, A Game of Chess, filmed in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The film, inspired by the mechanical movements, puppetry, elaborate costumes, and checkerboard dance floor of Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer's Triadic Ballet (1922), "features characters based on the classic game of chess," (from the show's press release). Dressed in masks and intricate costumes made from papier-mache, plaster, and fiberglass, the characters dance on a checkered floor in Dzama's treacherous chess game. Dzama's meticulous drawings and dioramas on display represent scenes and segments of the film and include a full storyboard for A Game of Chess. Influences of the film's location, Guadalajara, such as "local crafts and religious traditions," can be found in the works. On the opening night and at selected times during the exhibition, a mariachi band played live music based on the film's soundtrack.
Inspired by dance, Dada, and Marcel Duchamp, the Winnipeg-born, Brooklyn-based Dzama illustrates a vivid world populated by a huge, colorful cast engaged in a carefully orchestrated, stylish battle. Learn more at Davidzwirner.com and read a Q&A with the artist at artinfo.com. Through March 19th.
Turning into Puppets (Volviendose Marionetas), 2011; Inventory of the Queen (back wall, left), 2011; Feeding squirrels to the nuts (back wall, center), 2011; Rebellion lay in her way (back wall, right), 2011