Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS… (six performances, six films)
This exhibition showcases a recent addition to the Walker’s collection—and its first acquisition by British artist Tacita Dean. An ambitious 6-channel film installation, its title is self-explanatory: Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4’33” with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films). Legendary choreographer/dancer Cunningham, then 88 years old and in a wheelchair, agreed to what Dean called “an audacious request,” performing a new choreography for his life partner Cage’s best-known composition, a piece consisting of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of ambient sound.
Dean’s six films, each with a different ambient “soundtrack,” project Cunningham’s life-size image onto free-standing screens, creating a field of discrete yet overlapping performances. The Walker enjoyed a 45-year relationship with Cunningham, a consummate collaborator with visual artists who died in 2009. One of his last filmed performances is showcased in this elegiac piece from Dean, whose evocative, moving-image artworks explore personal memory, cultural history, and the passage of time while drawing inspiration from such disparate sources as architectural relics and eminent artists.
This exhibition is organized by the Walker Art Center.
Curator: Eric Crosby