Deville Cohen

I often start with a problem,
Or with something personal,
Or from a personal problem.

In my kinetic videos, installations, and theater works, I use sculptural and performative techniques to create works that reflect on the immediate relationships we have to everyday objects, images, and environments. Movements transform the sets and props so that the performers serve as human operators of a performative-kinetic-sculptures. Those arrangements of objects, Xerox-representations, and bodies are subverting the spatial syntaxes of both theatrical and sculptural spaces and the hierarchies they embody. The somewhat complex narrative structures of my work are carefully balanced by the intentional rickety of the sets, the makeshift of their assembly, and the fragility of their materials. Overwhelmingly frail, the links between the performer’s effort and their consequences position them in series of dead-ends Sisyphean scenarios. Often the result of these playful negotiations are dire, comical, tragic or absurd, but they are also asking us to re-examine power dynamics and structures of domination, alienation, belonging, and control. My work is both a meditation on our attempts to understand our immediate reality; and it is an aspiration for a temporary relief from the poorly designed systems of representation, identification, social order, and common sense in our everyday life.

Deville Cohen is a New York City based visual artist and a director. He studied sculpture at the KHB Berlin from 2002-2007 and received his MFA in film/video from Bard College, NY in 2010. His video installations were shown internationally in museums and galleries such as MoMA PS1; SFMoMA; The CCA Tel-Aviv; and The Living Art Museum, Reykjavik, Aspect Ratio Gallery, Chicago; Marlborough Chelsea Gallery, NYC; and Foxy Production gallery, NYC among others. He began creating for the stage during a residency at the Wooster Group Performance Garage in the summer of 2014. His creation underline was commissioned and co-produced by the Deutsche Oper Berlin and The Munich Biennale for New Music Theater in 2016 in collaboration with the composer Hugo Morales. In 2018 he co-created MENAGERIE with choreographer Shamel Pitts for Gibney Dance Company in NYC. In 2019 his new creation McGuffin was commissioned and produced by The Center of The Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was an artist in residence at Recess Art; EMPAC Troy, NY; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) workspace, NYC; Fountainhead in Miami; and LMCC Process-Space NYC.