A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Marcel Dzama is known for imaginative drawings, sculptures, dioramas and films. All of those mediums come together for his most complex show since joining the gallery in 1998.
The cornerstone is the eponymous black-and-white film that centers on the story of Brazilian sculptor Maria Martins, who was Marcel Duchamp’s lover for a while, and also the model for the nude in his last major artwork, Étant donnés. Heavy on Dadaist references—including Adoration of the Calf, Francis Picabia’s 1941–42 painting—Une Danse des Bouffons also recalls works by other artists Dzama admires—Francisco Goya’s dark etchings, Oskar Schlemmer’s costumes and Joseph Beuys’s shamanistic rituals—while weaving together allusions to current events and Dzama’s personal life.
An entry at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival, Une Danse des Bouffons unspools here in two versions with different women in the lead role: one tinted in red, starring Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon, and the other in blue, featuring actor and model Hannelore Knuts. The same palettes define two suites of drawings (combining the film’s characters with figures from the artist’s repertoire) and two sculpture series of heads based on chess pieces.
Ultimately it is the film, delirious and mesmerizing, that makes the greatest impact with its depiction of a sexually charged world in which fantasy, torture and terrorism run wild in absurd and disturbing ways.—Paul Laster