“The Company’s final trip to Paris includes two programs and ten shows in just under two weeks. It’s enough time to settle in and do some cooking for those that like to do so. ‘The Bastille Market is the best,’ said Emma Desjardins. After strolling through rows of booths and filling several bags with all kinds of fresh food, she added, ‘now I have to hurry because I’m going to be late for yoga.’”
Brooklyn artist Kenneth Parris III is touring with the Merce Cunningham dance company and documenting their farewell tour through a series of drawings of the dancers during their off hours.
The company will disband on after a final performance in New York on New Years day 2012 after 58 years.
Tori: “It’s funny for women because journalists pit women against each other. If you think about Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton they were all much more similar to each other than we are. We have tits. We have three holes. That’s what we have in common. We don’t even play the same instruments. It really disappoints me when some sort of competition has to be manufactured for their little minds and fantasies. That’s not growing, that’s not support. There is room for everybody on the planet to be creative and conscious if you are your own person. If you’re trying to be like somebody else, then there isn’t. We see things from different points of view and that affects people in different ways and I think that should be encouraged.”
In May 1994, Q Magazine put PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, and Bjork in a room together and interviewed them.
MINNEAPOLIS — Merce Cunningham, John Cage and Robert Rauschenberg are seated in a row and talking about their artistic partnership, delighted to be together. This is in a 1987 filmed interview that’s playing on perpetual loop in the current “Cunningham/Rauschenberg” exhibition at the Walker Art Center here. “There was a carte blanche trust,” says Rauschenberg about their radically modernist collaborations between 1952 and 1977, in which music, dance, and design were brought together only in performance or at dress rehearsal. “Independence was to be respected.”
Laughing, he also says: “I was always so jealous. John couldn’t do anything wrong. I was making costumes and sets that were often wrong. You” — Cunningham — “said you couldn’t trip on a note!” To David Vaughan, who asks questions during the video of all three artists, Rauschenberg adds wryly: “Merce is not the easiest person to work with! He hates costumes!” Then he turns to Cunningham and says, “That doesn’t mean you don’t have excellent taste.”
Humor and seriousness coexist seamlessly in their talk. Referring to the years 1953-64, when he toured with the Cunningham company, Rauschenberg remarks, “Traveling with Merce and John was the most creative time in my life.” Cunningham adds, “It was an adventure.” Rauschenberg: “Working with John and Merce gave me license to do anything.”
The range of that “anything” is on display in the exhibition, which covers a marvelously entertaining range of idiom and thought. The most celebrated item is Rauschenberg’s pointillistic backdrop for Cunningham’s “Summerspace” (1958), a demonstration of Rauschenberg’s life-enhancing sense of color. Though the method recalls Seurat, the palette and the Impressionistic evocation of landscape recalls Monet.
Nearby, in contrast, is the horizontal row of chairs and bicycle wheels that is part of the scenery for “Travelogue” (1977); a video excerpt of this dance is on the interview tape. Elsewhere are the range of absurdist costumes and objects that the dancers wore and used in “Antic Meet” (1958), along with a 1964 black-and-white film of this work and the free-standing three-dimensional theatrical collage that distnguished “Minutiae” (1953).
The Walker Art Center acquired the Cunningham company’s historic designs early in 2011. This exhibition is only a first sampling — it’s fun to open a series of drawers and see the costumes for “Summerspace” — supplemented by material from other sources, not least Rauschenberg’s 1950s black-and-white photographs of Cunningham dancing. And this, on display until April 12, 2012, is just the first installment.
My own favorite Rauschenberg work of art is the décor for Cunningham’s “Interscape” (2000); its variety of subject matter, all theatrically legible, made it the most spectacular of crazy quilts. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see it again onstage: when the curtain rose, you saw a black-and-white gauze of this collage, through which you saw dancers moving as if warming up; then the curtain rose and, behind the now full-out choreography, you saw the full color version of Rauschenberg’s vision. It was on a heroic scale. If that is hung at the Walker in a sequel to the current exhibition, then I plan to return to Minneapolis.
Begun in 2005, Paul Chan’s ambitious cycle entitled The 7 Light (completed in 2008) combines projections, together with charcoal drawings, collages and digital studies to create a series of enigmatic encounters with light and darkness. This quality is indicated in the title, where the word ‘light’ has been struck through, drawing attention to both its presence and absence.