Italian directing sensation Luca Guadagnino (“A Bigger Splash,” “Call Me By Your Name”) teamed with installation artist Taryn Simon to document her haunting meditation on grief, “An Occupation of Loss,” with virtual reality. The piece premiered at New York’s Park Avenue Armory last September.
Taking the form of a row of 11 concrete towers, each inhabited by professional mourners from different countries, Simon blends sculpture, sound, architecture, and performance. Guadagnino’s short film takes the viewer through the installation with Simon’s voiceover as guide. Surveying the vast space, the camera enters each tower to reveal the different grieving rituals, before a door opens and light pours in, thrusting the viewer onto the busy New York streets without explanation.
Simon documented the arduous process of obtaining visas for all of the performers, which turned the installation into a commentary on immigration. “We still had a number of groups that were denied entry,” Simon told The New York Times. “In those denials, the U.S. government took on an active role in curating the work. In looking back, I often think it was my last chance to realize this work, in that form, within American borders. Given all that’s transpired since January, it’s possible the sculpture would have been empty today.”
While you can watch on your computer, it’s best experienced on a smartphone with a Google Cardboard or a Daydream View.