Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4'33? with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007
Beacon, NY— On May 17, 2008, Dia Art Foundation opens a new installation of a six-film projection by Tacita Dean, titled Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4'33? with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007. Based on footage Dean shot of Merce Cunningham with Trevor Carlson at Cunningham’s studio in Manhattan, in April 2007, Dean’s multipartite installation is presented at Dia:Beacon, Riggio Galleries, as part of special programming marking the fifth anniversary of the museum’s opening in New York’s Hudson Valley. The installation will be on view through September 1, 2008.
The celebratory fifth-anniversary weekend, on Saturday, May 17*, and Sunday, May 18, 2008, also includes performances by Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the launch of two special long-term installations: Imi Knoebel’s monumental 24 Colors—for Blinky (1977) and a new installation by artist Helen Mirra of Knoebel’s Room 19 (1968).
For her new project, Tacita Dean shot six distinct films depicting legendary choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham performing Stillness, his singular choreography to John Cage’s radical 1952 composition, 4' 33?. In each film, the fixed camera remains focused on Cunningham, who sits in a chair and assumes a variety of attitudes. This static scene is broken twice, when Trevor Carlson, director of the Cunningham Dance Company, marks the three parts with a simple gesture. Subtly different, each performance has been filmed from a different camera angle. Each is presented on a screen whose dimensions are calibrated to render the image of Cunningham life-size.
Cage’s 4' 33?, a score reliant upon the ambient sounds of the pianist, the audience, and the environment, was first performed in upstate New York in 1952. By that time, Cage and Cunningham were life-long partners, and for the next 40 years, the pair would collaborate on explorations of their respective time-based practices, dance and music. Never considering film simply as a vehicle for the documentation of his work, Cunningham has long collaborated with filmmakers, including, notably, Charles Atlas, in a pioneering exploration of the possibilities of choreography for the camera.
Dean’s project is also a touchstone against which to consider Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s series Beacon Events, created during a two-year series of programs at Dia:Beacon. Over eight performances, one each season, the Company is presenting original choreography and scores created in response to specific installations at the museum, initiating a rich and often unexpected dialogue between the dancer’s movements and the artworks on display. Following performances in September 2007 and January 2008, the third performance in the Company’s series will take place on Sunday, May 18, 2008, at 2pm and 4:30pm.
Born in Canterbury, England, in 1965, Berlin-based artist Tacita Dean is celebrated for a rich and diverse body of work that includes films, drawings, photographs, audio recordings, and installations. Her artworks often revolve around historical facts and fictions, and both chance and circumstance play an important role in her narratives. Dean has exhibited internationally in solo and group shows since 1992. Recent solo exhibitions have been held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (Hugo Boss Prize Exhibition, 2007); Schaulager, Munchenstein/Basel, Switzerland (2006); and the National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway (2006).
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