Daniel Arsham Evokes Merce Cunningham in Replica at Arsht and MoCA

Merce Cunningham was hip before his time. The choreographer's spectacular collaborations with off-the-mainstream-grid musicians and artists such as John Cage, Bruce Nauman, and Sonic Youth, broke all boundaries and changed dance forever. In one of his last multidisciplinary pieces before his death, Merce tapped Miami visual artist Daniel Arsham to craft his sets in 2007, and now it's Arsham's turn to forge new frontiers.

Replica, one of his first attempts lands at the Adrienne Arsht Center this Friday and -- in a nod to the truly eclectic collaborative nature of the piece -- at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Saturday.

Now based in New York, Arsham was on his way to the airport when we

caught up with him, returning to Miami to direct Replica, the work

co-created with former Merce dancer Jonah Bokaer and Judith Sanchez

Ruiz. Arsham has again created the set -- reflecting his remarkable eye

for spatial design -- but this time, the 28-year-old will also take the


"I just figured, I can do what I want [to see] as well as anyone

else." He will be joined by Bokaer and Taiwanese dancer CC Chang in

performing the 55-minute piece. They will be interacting with a giant white cube in the middle of the

stage, competing with video images simultaneously projected on those

white walls. And in what has become an Arsham trademark, optical

illusions will infuse the whole scene with a sense of unreality.

It will

appear as though "the cube is breaking down, you'll see it start to

physically break up during the performance. But then, it will begin to

reassemble, in a manipulation of the wall," explains Arsham. "I like the

idea of mirroring, and of replication." Hence the title, Replica.

Arsham also says he wants to do away with typical stage boundaries in a

literal sense - like off-stage versus on. So when the performance moves

to the museum, off-stage will disappear all together - the dancers will

only move around the cube, and maybe the audience too. "I think the

seats will be all around, very different from the traditional viewing


If you can't make it to one of these performances, the creative (and

prolific) hand of Arsham won't be hard to find elsewhere. He'll have a

huge installation in the foyer of the Arsht Center when the Merce

Cunningham Dance Company returns for its Legacy Tour during Art Basel;

and a solo show at Galerie Perrotin, the once dominant and now mostly

dormant gallery in Wynwood - the only exhibit it will have this year.

Replica will be performed at the Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne

Blvd., Miami) this Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $25; call 305-949-6722,

or visit  The second performance takes place at the

Museum of Contemporary Art (770 NE 125th St., North Miami) on Saturday  at 7 p.m.; tickets cost $10 for members $15 for non-members;

call 305-893-6211 or visit

--Anne Tschida for

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Miami New Times staff