Marilyn Arsem: Biography

Marilyn Arsem has been creating live events since 1975, ranging from solo performances, to large scale, site-specific works incorporating installation and performance.  Arsem has presented work at festivals, alternative spaces, galleries, museums and universities in 15 states across the United States, as well as Belarus, Canada, England, Taiwan, Germany, Poland, Croatia, and throughout the Republic of Macedonia.

In her recent work, Arsem has focused on site-specific events, often designed for audiences of a single person, that respond to both the history of the site, as well as to the immediate landscape and materiality of the location.  These recent works examine hidden worlds that lie beneath the surface, which lurk underground, and ones which will eventually decay and dissolve back into the earth.  The pieces are designed to implicate the audience directly in the concerns of the work, to create an experience that is both visceral and intellectual.  To accomplish this, she incorporates a broad range of media.

Her work has been presented, most notably, in the Zamek Wyobrazni/Castle of Imagination Festival, Ustka, Poland; the Fifth International Festival of Performance Art Navinki 2003, Minsk, Belarus; Public Spaces/Private Places International Performance Festival, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Hengstbachprojekt, Dreieich, Germany; Vogelfrei Festival, Darmstadt, Germany; Skopsko Leto Festival, Skopje, Macedonia; in New York City at the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, and at Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.  She was a featured artist at The Cleveland Performance Art Festival in 1990.

Arsem has participated in many national and international exchanges, including projects in Poland, Croatia and Macedonia.  In 1998/1999 she was part of an exchange between Boston, US and Tainan, Taiwan artists and architects responding to waterfront development in both cities.

She has been the recipient of numerous grants, including a National Endowment for the Arts Solo Theater Fellowship, 1994.  Arsem has also been awarded residencies at St. Norbert Arts Centre, Winnipeg, Canada; University of Newcastle, Northumbria, UK; Dartington College of Art, UK; The MacDowell Colony, Yellow Springs Institute; and in the Republic of Macedonia at the International Art Colony of Kumanovo; International Art Colony of Kicevo, and the International Plastic Art Colony of Strumica.

Her work has been reviewed in many publications including The New York Times, Parachute, Afterimage, New Art Examiner, Text and Performance Quarterly, Performing Arts Journal, Women and Performance Journal, P-Form, and High Performance.

Arsem received her BFA from Boston University in 1973.  She is the founder of Mobius, an interdisciplinary collaborative of artists.  She is a full-time faculty member of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she heads the Performance Area and teaches in the Graduate Program.