By Show and Tell
By Bree Davies
By Bree Davies
By Cory Casciato
By Emilie Johnson
By Robin Edwards
By Bree Davis
By Josiah M. Hesse
Finally, for something completely different, there's Laleh Mehran: Men of God, Men of Nature (through February 17), in the Fuse Box. It was curated by the DAM's senior Modern and Contemporary curator, Gwen Chanzit. On the wall outside of the space, Mehran has installed pierced flat white plastic shapes that recall beehives. Periodically through the run of the show, she is staging performances in which she asks museum visitors simple questions; their answers determine where individual elements are placed.
Mehran, who teaches at the University of Denver, was born in Iran, though she has spent most of her life in this country. Using ambient noise and lighting inside the Fuse Box, she has created an installation anchored by a huge black cube that is ominous in its size and color. The cube refers to the Kaaba, Islam's most sacred site, a cube-shaped granite structure in Mecca that is draped in black cloth, and toward which Muslims kneel and pray.
On the sides of the cube, Mehran has incised lines that are actually maps of different parts of the world. These lines can barely be seen in the dim light of the gallery. Around on the fourth side — the back side, as it happens — is a short flight of stairs that lead to an entrance into the interior of the cube. Inside, the walls are lined and the ceiling is defined by plastic lattice patterns that are loosely based on similar patterns seen in Islamic architecture. The patterns are made using computer technology that forms and cuts the plastic. This technique — in which high-tech methods are used to create actual, not virtual, objects — is called trans-media. But there are virtual elements in the Mehran installation as well, in the form of video screens with abstract shapes advancing or receding.
When former DAM director Lewis Sharp was pushing to have the Daniel Libeskind-designed Hamilton constructed, the goal was to provide the institution with enough extra space to constantly be able to present temporary exhibits alongside the mostly static displays in the permanent collection. That goal has been realized in spades under Sharp's successor, Christoph Heinrich, who has turned the DAM into an exhibition-driven place.