Closing Reception: May 14, 6 – 8pm
In summer 2015, Yve Laris Cohen began working part-time as a production assistant for the Martha Graham Dance Company. Through that work, he became increasingly familiar with the Company’s theatrical property.
In summer 2012, the Martha Graham Dance Company leased the rehearsal studios that formerly housed the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in the Westbeth Artists Housing complex in the West Village. The Company used available basement space, as did many artists in Westbeth, to store its sets, props, costumes, theatrical equipment, and paper archives on site. Three months later, the Hudson River surged into the basement during Hurricane Sandy, fully submerging 90 years’ worth of materials. After sustaining more than an estimated $7 million in damage, the collection was taken to a temporary storage facility on higher ground, and the Company faced the long, costly ordeal of piecemeal repair. Over three years later, a number of ballets have yet to be rebuilt.
For his exhibition Embattled Garden, Yve Laris Cohen will spend five weeks examining, deconstructing, and reconstructing the set of Martha Graham’s 1958 dance of the same name. Consisting of a bisected raked platform and a 12-foot tall tree, the set was designed by Graham’s frequent collaborator, Isamu Noguchi.
Laris Cohen will use Company Gallery as a workshop, viewable to the public during gallery hours, to fabricate an exact replica of the company’s existing Noguchi set—some original pieces of which are currently held by the Noguchi Museum. As with much of Noguchi’s work for Martha Graham, the original set’s construction and design reflected Noguchi’s training as a sculptor.
YVE LARIS COHEN holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Columbia University, where he worked for three months as a set and prop builder for the theater department before becoming overwhelmed by the demands of his program. He graduated with a BA in Art Practice and Dance & Performance Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied Martha Graham technique in the dance program founded by Marnie and David Wood.