These seven wonderful soft plastic boxes are stage furniture Jasper Johns made for a dance performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company in l968. The dance, choreographed by Cunningham, was called Walkaround Time. Music for the performance was written by John Cage. The whole project was an homage to Marcel Duchamp –a friend of the three artist collaborators.
The idea for the dance emerged from a conversation between Cunningham and Johns on an evening when the two were guests at Duchamps’ home. Johns suggested that Cunningham could construct a dance using images that were based on parts of “The Large Glass” that would be disposed in various ways around the stage. They asked Duchamp if he would go along with such a translation of his painting. When Johns said that he would do the work, Duchamp agreed. Duchamp asked only that at some point in the dance the furniture should be seen with its parts related in the same way as in the original work. Johns supervised the manufacture of the pieces, painting images from “The Large Glass” onto these soft plastic boxes, and changing the dimensions to make them capable of being free-standing and moveable on the stage.
The dance title, Walkaround Time, derives from the term computer scientists coined for the time it took their huge early computers to boot up, time they could use for other work. A linkage between Duchamp’s “Large Glass” and the modern computer? What do you think?
About the Author: Terrence Williams is a writer and honorary Walker Tour Guide. He resides in St. Paul, MN and Santa Monica, CA.
Viewfinder posts are your opportunity to “show & tell” about the everyday arts happenings, interesting sights and sounds made or as seen by Minnesota artists, because art is where you find it. Submit your own informal, first-person responses to the art around you to katie(at)mnartists.org, and we may well publish your piece here on the blog. (Guidelines: 300 words or less, not about your own event/work, and please include an image, media, video, or audio file, and one sentence about yourself.)