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Arts faculty Michael Casselli ’87 exhibits in Berlin

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The scenic design and performance work of Michael Casselli ’87, Antioch College assistant professor of Sculpture and Installation, will be included in a retrospective of the work of visionary Iranian-American theater director Reza Abdoh (1963-95).

The exhibition is being Co-organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large, The Museum of Modern Art; and Negar Azimi, Tiffany Malakooti, and Babak Radboy for Bidoun. The exhibition is co-produced with the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, where it will be presented from February 8 to April 29, 2019 and organized in collaboration with Krist Gruijthuijsen, Director. This exhibition first opened at PS1/MOMA last June.

Abdoh’s mark on the world of theater was unmistakable. Relentlessly inventive, he pushed his actors—and audiences—to their limits amid ambitious, unusual, disorienting stage sets. Abdoh’s aesthetic language borrowed from fairy tales, BDSM, talk shows, raves, video art, and the history of avant-garde theater.The hallucinatory dreamscapes he produced spoke forcefully and eloquently to the ugly political realities of his time—from government-sanctioned racism to the Reagan administration’s refusal to acknowledge the AIDS crisis to war mongering at home and abroad. He was already one of the most compelling figures in American avant-garde theater when he died of AIDS in 1995 at the age of thirty-two. Near the end of his life, Abdoh insisted that he didn’t want his plays to be restaged. Traces of his work were to be found on videotapes passed around experimental theater circles, many of which serve as the basis of the exhibition at hand. This exhibition, the first large-scale retrospective of Abdoh’s work, will highlight the diverse video works that Abdoh produced for his performances and an installation based on his 1991 production Bogeyman. The exhibition also includes contextual materials reflecting the club scenes in both Los Angeles and New York, the culture wars of the Reagan era, and the AIDS crisis.

Michael’s reflections on Reza and the impact of his work will also be included in a forthcoming book on Reza’s life and work, edited by Bidoun, that will be published during the show’s Berlin run.