Drawing Room (Achea Rheon)
Photographic backdrop paper, crayons, artist's body, children age 4-10, video projection, sound
Whitney Museum of American Art
From the series: Vessels
Achea Rheon, (River of Sorrow), is one of the five rivers separating Hades from the world of the living.
The gallery floor is covered with white paper. I lie curled up in the center of the room. With black crayons in both of my hands, I draw around my body. The resulting lines accumulate and the paper around my figure becomes darker. There are crayons scattered on the floor. Children ages 4-10 gradually join me as they move over the space, drawing around their own silhouettes the way I draw around mine. Observing the slow, silent, and focused performative action, some of them decide to imitate my circular movements, drawing with both hands simultaneously while their heads are touching the floor. Others draw other shapes and images of their own choice.
A video camera is suspended from the ceiling above the gallery’s floor, and positioned centrally in the gallery space. The resulting footage is projected on the wall. The three-dimensional world seen from a bird’s eye view is translated into a flat, painterly projection, resembling a map, with silhouettes of people and shapes of drawings continuing to change, impossible to predict.
The sound permeates the space and consists of a recording of an act of drawing, mixed with underwater sounds recorded during an immersion in my studio, and with sounds of children playing outdoors. This sound, coming from a past reality, mirrors the children’s voices in the room during the five-hour action, the way the projected image mirrors their bodies.
The space of the "drawing room" becomes a living organism, contingent and dependent on the flux of children's energy. Our silhouettes become part of sculptural material moving through the space of paper, like the quietly floating waters of a river.