Behind the Scenes at the DAM

Mehran's Inspirations for Men of God, Men of Nature

You'll be hard-pressed to find a 90-degree angle in the Daniel Libeskind-designed Hamilton Building. That was part of what inspired Colorado artist Laleh Mehran to place a monumental black cube in the level four Fuse Box space. Playfully calling her installation—Men of God, Men of Nature—a collaboration between herself and Libeskind, Mehran shines a light on the physical and metaphorical multi-dimensionality of the deceptively simple shape.

Almost apparitional amidst the eerily lit and vertiginously slanting walls of the gallery space, the cube plays off the walls while the walls activate the cube in new and unexpected ways. Depending on a viewer's location, the wall may appear straight or the cube might begin to morph into a triangle or rhomboid. What does all this shape-shifting mean? On one level, Mehran’s cube embodies the artist’s exploration about how ideas, politics, religion, science, and even truth can shift and change, depending on one's perspective.

If Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey comes to mind when you see Mehran's installation, you are in sync with the artist, who counts Kubrick’s iconic film as one of the many influences for her work in the Fuse Box. Like unexplored frontiers and distant worlds, the installation rewards the curious explorer. With the same sense of wonder Kubrick embraces in his film—don’t be timid—circle the cube, find the entrance, and encounter a shifting world of pattern, reflection, and sound.

Laleh Mehran’s Men of God, Men of Nature, will be on view through February 17, 2013.

Image credit: Laleh Mehran. Men of God, Men of Nature, 2012. Site-specific installation. Supported by DAM Contemporaries and by the University of Denver’s Creative Arts Materials Fund and Professional Research Opportunities Fund, and by CO-LAB a laboratory for connections, culture and technology. © the artist; image courtesy Denver Art Museum

Renée B. Miller is the curatorial assistant in the modern and contemporary department. Renée has been at the DAM since 2008. She recommends that visitors don’t miss Modern Masters: 20th Century Icons from the Albright-Knox Art Gallery on level 2 of the Hamilton Building.