Artist
Marilyn Arsem

USA
https://marilynarsem.net/

Marilyn Arsem has been creating live events since 1975, ranging from solo performances to large scale, site-specific works incorporating installation and performance. Arsem has presented work at festivals, alternative spaces, galleries, museums and universities in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asian. In 2016 she completed a 100-day performance at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Many of her works are durational in nature, and minimal in actions and materials. Created in response to the site, they engage with the immediate landscape and materiality of the location, its history, use, or politics. Arsem has often focused on designing site-specific events for audiences of a single person, allowing her to explore the unique properties of live performance: the possibility of direct interaction between performer and audience; the opportunity to engage the audience’s full range of senses including taste, touch and smell; and addressing the implications of the temporal nature of the live event, which can be retained only in memory. The performances often hover at the edge of visibility, creating an experience in which the viewer must stretch her or his perceptual capacities to their furthest limits.

She has been the recipient of numerous grants, including a Research Fellowship at the American Antiquarian Society, 1997; a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Theater Fellowship, 1994; an Artists’ Projects: New Forms Initiative Award, 1992, from the New England Foundation for the Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and a Massachusetts Artists Foundation Fellowship in New Genres, 1991.

Her work has been reviewed in many publications including The New York Times (Dunning, 1994), Parachute (Todd, 1998), Text and Performance Quarterly (Anderson, 1994), Women and Performance Journal (Todd, 1996; Parker, 1988), P-Form (Askanas, 1998, 1994), New Art Examiner (Abell, 1992), and High Performance (Engstrom, 1991; Sparks, 1990; Miller, 1990; Perez, 1986; Pederson, 1986; Sommer, 1985).

She is a member (and the founder) of Mobius, Inc., a Boston-based collaborative of interdisciplinary artists. She taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for 27 years, establishing one of the most extensive programs internationally in visually-based performance art.

© Marilyn Arsem, 2017. Photo Henry Chan.

Performance
Meridian by Marilyn Arsem

FADO presents Meridian, a new work by Boston artist Marilyn Arsem, presented as part of FADO’s ongoing Public Spaces / Private Places series.

Meridian will take place at the beach on the south side of Ward’s Island on the longest day of the year. Beginning at dawn and ending at sunset, the artist will follow the line of the sun, marking out a hundred years of time. Now in the 50th year of her own life, Arsem will use this solstice mid-point as an opportunity to take a considered look in both directions – back into the past and forward into the future. As she undertakes her measured progression along the beach, Arsem will recount the history of the last 50 years, and imagine the next 50 years. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions about specific years and enter into discussion with her as she buries the past and sows the future.


ARTIST STATEMENT by Marilyn Arsem, May 2001

In recent years I have been creating site-specific installations in outdoor locations in the United States, Europe and Asia. In each work I am responding to both the history of the site, as well as to the immediate landscape and materiality of the location. All of these recent works examine hidden worlds that lie beneath the surface, ones which lurk underground, and those which eventually decay and dissolve back into the earth.

I am particularly interested in implicating the audience directly in the concerns of the pieces. I use different strategies to design a very distinct role in the work for the viewer, so that they have an experience that is both visceral and intellectual. To accomplish this, I incorporate a range of media, including text, video and performance, as well as using materials and objects generated from and in response to the site.

I insert my installation into the site so that it is nearly invisible. The viewers’ initial impression is that there is nothing to see. It is only as they begin to pay closer attention that they become aware of the elements that I have hidden in the landscape. The audience must make an effort to discover the buried images, take time to assemble the fragments, use their intellect, often in discussion with other audience members, in order to decipher and construct meaning out of their experience.

The installations operate in a liminal space, blurring the boundaries between art and life. Because of the almost imperceptible images, and the inevitable intrusions of the real world, the viewers’ interpretation of the experience has as much to do with their own projections and concerns as it does with my own. In that respect, the work functions as a kind of Rorschach test, and the audiences’ response is a critical component of the final work. Documentation of their interpretation of the pieces reveals the collaboration between artist and audience in the construction of meaning.


Image © Marilyn Arsem, Meridian, 2001. Photo Paul Couillard.

Series
Public Spaces / Private Places

Public Spaces / Private Places was a 3-year long international performance art series featuring 22 projects, created by 26 artists, from Canada, the US, Europe and Asia. The series explored the elements that turn neutral ‘space’ into meaningful ‘place’ through performances that examined the degrees of intimacy, connection and interaction that mark the dividing line between public and private. The series was particularly focused on performances created for intimate audiences. Some projects featured site-specific or installational environments that invited participants into a sensory or experiential journey. Others were process-oriented, involving public intervention, intimate gestures, or actions that were, by their nature, nearly invisible. Above all, the series explored the points where identity and geography intersect to generate meaning.

2002–2003
Walking and Getting Rid of Something by Kirsten Forkert
Promenades by Sylvie Cotton
The Rootless Man by Iwan Wijono
Disposition by Adina Bar-On

2001–2002
Talking to my Horse by Archer Pechawis
A Gathering for Her by Reona Brass
Mettachine (Sequence 1) by Louise McKissick
Feu de Joie by Randy & Berenicci
Open Surgery by Oreet Ashery & Svar Simpson
Remembrance Day by Johanna Householder
Disclosure by Undo
Meridian by Marilyn Arsem
One Stitch in Time by Devora Newmark

2000–2001
The Addmore Session by Istvan Kantor
spoken house by Otiose
Public Web by Tagny Duff
Numb/Hum: A Subterranean Metropolitan Opera by Christine Carson
Between Us by Jerzy Onuch
Ethel: Bloodline by Louise Liliefeldt
where do I go from here? by Stefanie Marshall
Urban Disco Trailer by Jinhan Ko
Evanescent Rumour by Tony Romano

The Public Spaces / Private Places series presented 22 performance projects between 2000–2003, and was curated by Paul Couillard.

Series Purple

An ode to FADO's history, Series Purple is composed of a collection of purple fragrance materials dating back to the Roman Empire. Dense, intense, and meandering, this fragrance tells us non-linear stories.

Top Notes

huckleberry, violet

Middle Notes

cassis, lilac, heliotrope

Base Notes

orris root, purple sage, labdanum