Louis B. James presents POISON, a solo exhibition by Deville Cohen, his first in New York. The show comprises a new video and several photographs furthering Cohen’s exploration of the allegorical potential of every day objects through highly constructed narratives and sets.
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.
The photographs on display abstract moments from the protagonists’ journey, isolating through still life and staging the allegorical poignancies of the materials, images, and props.
Deville Cohen (b. 1977) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He received his MFA from Bard College in 2010.