WALKER ART CENTER AND MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO COPRESENT MERCE CUNNINGHAM: COMMON TIME PREMIERING FEBRUARY 2017 ACROSS INSTITUTIONS
OPENING EVENTS INCLUDE COMMISSIONED PERFORMANCES, TALKS, AND CELEBRATIONS
MINNEAPOLIS, January, 2017—Walker Art Center and Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago copresent Merce Cunningham: Common Time, a major survey organized by the Walker that investigates Merce Cunningham’s groundbreaking practice and multidisciplinary collaborations that revolutionized dance in the 20th century and continue to influence generations of artists, composers, and choreographers. The Walker-organized exhibition will premiere February 8, 2017 at the Walker and February 11, 2017 at the MCA Chicago with three performance commissions. Organized by Fionn Meade, Walker Art Center Artistic Director, with Philip Bither, Joan Rothfuss and Mary Coyne. Lynne Warren is the organizing curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.
Merce Cunningham: Common Time is the first survey exhibition to measure the late choreographer and dancer’s indelible impact on generations of artists. The exhibition presents an unparalleled emphasis on the cross-disciplinary collaborations between the Merce Cunningham Dance Company (MCDC) and leading post-war artists who created original compositions, costumes, lighting, and set designs for the company. The exhibition takes as its starting point the notion of “common time,” described by Cunningham as the “underlying principle that music and dance and art could be separate entities independent and interdependent, sharing a common time.” This co-existent relationship of the arts, exemplified by Cunningham’s lifelong collaborations with composer John Cage, serves as the foundation for a career that exemplified and fostered this shared philosophy.
The exhibition will feature works that bridge disciplines by artists including: Daniel Arsham, Charles Atlas, George Brecht, Trisha Brown, John Cage, Elliot Caplan, Remy Charlip, Merce Cunningham, Philip Corner, Tacita Dean, Morton Feldman, Morris Graves, Al Hansen, Maria Hassabi, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Dick Higgins, Toshi Ichiyanagi, Allan Kaprow, Rei Kawakubo, Takehisa Kosugi, Jasper Johns, Mark Lancaster, Jackson Mac Low, George Maciunas, Peter Moore, Richard Moore, Robert Morris, Gordon Mumma, Bruce Nauman, Ernesto Neto, Isamu Noguchi, Pauline Oliveros, Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, Steve Paxton, D.A. Pennebaker, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine Summers, Frank Stella, Charlotte Trowbridge, David Tudor, Stan VanDerBeek, Andy Warhol, Christian Wolff, and La Monte Young.
Extending the trajectory of influence to the present, Common Time includes three new dance commissions by leading abstract movement innovators of today, including STAGING (2017), a new installation from Maria Hassabi performed by eight dancers; Tesseract, a 3-D video and live collaborative stage work by former Cunningham dancers Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener with five additional dancers, in collaboration with long-time Cunningham media collaborator and video artist Charles Atlas; and the world premiere of Brand Bew Sidewalk, a new ensemble work by New York-based choreographer Beth Gill. There will be multiple opportunities to experience Cunningham choreography live in the Common Time galleries including ten separate Walker Cunningham Events -- collaged excerpts from his repertory spanning decades in a site-responsive format Cunningham pioneered in 1964, performed by former company dancers Dylan Crossman, Silas Riener, Jamie Scott, and Melissa Toogood. France’s Ballet de Lorraine performs Cunningham masterwork Sounddance (1975) and the Walkercommissioned Fabrications (1987). Other live programming includes Music for Merce: A Two-Night Celebration that features works by ten diverse experimental composer-musicians who worked with the company over decades, curated by John King, and a series of discursive programs in April 2017.
Merce Cunningham: Common Time will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue featuring commissioned essays by leading critics and art historians from a variety of disciplines, including: Juliet Bellow, Carlos Basualdo, Roger Copeland, Douglas Crimp, Hiroko Ikegami, Claudia La Rocco, and Benjamin Piekut. In addition, the catalogue features an extensive chronology and newly discovered archival photography from 60 years of Cunningham’s creative output, making the book a must-have resource for scholars and those interested in dance, performance or post-war artistic practice.
Together with this groundbreaking publication, the exhibition investigates the unique working methods, profound relationships, and choreographic influence of Cunningham’s singular approach to sharing a “common time,” which remains one of the most inspirational models of 20th-century interdisciplinary practice.
Frank Stella Décor for Scramble (1967) in Event for Television 1977 (still) video (color, sound), 56 min. Directed by Merrill Brockway Courtesy WNET-TV New York Archives Décor ©2016 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Emma Desjardins performing Beacon Event, Andy Warhol Shadow Paintings (2007).
Maria Hassabi STAGING Photo: Thomas Poravas
Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, with Charles Atlas
Tuesday, February 7
6:30pm Film Screening: Cage/Cunningham
Northrop Best Buy Cinema OFFSITE
Wednesday, February 8
11 am, Galleries open
11 am–9 pm, Maria Hassabi STAGING (2017) world premiere
5–9 pm, Public Reception
5:30 pm, Walker Cunningham Event #1
6:30 pm, Talking Dance: Suzanne Weil in conversation with Philip Bither
8 pm, Walker Cunningham Event #2
Thursday, February 9
11 am, Galleries open
11 am–9 pm, Maria Hassabi STAGING (2017)
5–9 pm, Public Reception
5:30 pm, Walker Cunningham Event #3
6:00pm Charles Atlas’s Ocean screening in Mediatheque
8 pm, Walker Cunningham Event #4
Merce Cunningham: Common Time Performance Calendar
Merce Cunningham Walker Cunningham Events
Wednesday–Thursday, February 8–9, 2017, 5:30 and 8 pm
Free with gallery admission
Wednesday, February 8: Michelle Kinney/Anthony Cox/Andrew Broder
Thursday, February 9: Nick Gaudette/Mankwe Ndosi
March 30–April 9, 2017
Thursday, 5:30 and 8 pm
Friday–Sunday, 1:30 and 4 pm
The Perlman Gallery comes alive with movement and sound as Dylan Crossman, Silas Riener, Jamie Scott, and Melissa Toogood—dancers from the final Merce Cunningham Dance Company—perform Cunningham’s unique choreographic form made for non-theater spaces, which he called “Events.” Staged by former Cunningham dancer Andrea Weber, these 30-minute collages of movement drawn from four decades of the artist’s work offer a rare chance to experience his signature explorations of space, time, and movement. Contemporary compositions will be performed live by a different set of accomplished, Minnesota-based vanguard music-makers each day curated by cellist/composer Michelle Kinney. Cunningham’s choreography is performed courtesy of the Merce Cunningham Trust.
Thursday, March 30: John Keston/Graham O'Brien
Friday, March 31: Douglas Ewart/Laura Harada
Saturday, April 1: Michelle Kinney/Cole Pulice/Eric Jensen
Sunday, April 2: Joe Strachan/Noah Ophoven-Baldwin
Thursday, April 6: Toby Ramaswamy/Adam Zhaller
Friday, April 7: Tara Loeper/Patrick Marschke
Saturday, April 8: Davu Seru/Jeremy Ylvisaker
Sunday, April 9: Cody McKinney/Leah Ottman
World Premiere/Walker Commission
Wednesday–Sunday, February 8–12; Tuesday–Sunday, February 14–19, 2017
Free with gallery admission
Occupying a space between live performance and visual art, choreographer Maria Hassabi‘s work explores stillness and sustained motion. Her sculptural live installations explore the tension between the human form and the artistic object. These magnetic performances of looped, long-form choreography will be performed by eight highly accomplished dancers directed by the artist. Visitors encounter STAGING in the Walker’s Cargill Lounge and Common Time galleries during the opening hours of the exhibition.
CCN–Ballet de Lorraine
Sounddance, Fabrications, Devoted
Thursday, February 16, 2017, 7:30 pm $55, $45, $35 ($44, $36, $28)
Northrop, 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis
The acclaimed CCN–Ballet de Lorraine celebrates Merce Cunningham’s legacy with a rare chance to see two of his groundbreaking works: the dramatic, Walker-commissioned Fabrications (presented 30 years after its premiere at Northrop with live music by the original composer, Brazil’s Emanuel Dimas de Melo Pimenta) and the “organized chaos” of Sounddance, performed at a high velocity from start to finish to a thundering electronic score by David Tudor. The program also includes Devoted, a new ballet by irreverent choreographic duo Cecilia Bengolea and François Chaignaud, with a score by Philip Glass. Copresented with Northrop.
Music for Merce: A Two-Night Celebration
Program A: Thursday, February 23, 2017, 8 pm
Program B: Friday, February 24, 8 pm $28 ($22.40)
$50 for both nights
Cunningham and longtime partner/composer John Cage were renowned for their legendary collaborations with the most significant experimental musicians of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Join us to celebrate this remarkable legacy over two historic evenings with a festival of music and sound performances curated by composer/guitarist John King. Featured with King are electronic music pioneers and fellow longtime Merce Cunningham Dance Company associate David Behrman, contemporary classical composer Christian Wolff, along with percussionist and sound sculptor Fast Forward, and composer/performers Joan La Barbara, Ikue Mori, George Lewis, Zeena Parkins, and Radiohead’s Philip Selway with London multi-instrumentalist Quinta. Each evening consists of a separate set of solo, duo, ensemble, and landmark works, concluding with a collectively made real-time composition.
Rashaun Mitchell+Silas Riener with Charles Atlas
Thursday–Saturday, March 16–18, 2017, 8 pm $28 ($22.40)
Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener were two of the most stunning performers in the final iteration of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. In a groundbreaking co-commission with Experimental and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), they are paired with longtime Cunningham collaborator and visual/media artist Charles Atlas. The thrilling result is a live dance/technology hybrid featuring seven dancers and 3-D video that weaves together dance, sci-fi narratives, and live film segments (edited in real time by Atlas). Toggling between the corporeal and the digital, this revolutionary work disorients one’s sense of space and time in playful and unpredictable ways.
Brand New Sidewalk
World Premiere/Walker Commission
Friday–Saturday, May 5–6, 2017, 8 pm $22 ($17.60)\Known for her exacting rigor and mesmerizing precision, Bessie Award– winner Beth Gill makes choreography that is spare yet playful, stark yet beautiful. In Brand New Sidewalk, Gill teams up with composer Jon Moniaci and lighting designer Thomas Dunn to create a sparse and elegant diptych born of questioning the value of formalism in dance. This evocative new piece for four dancers explores themes of alienation, erasure, and power, illuminating the “structural pleasure” of the Merce Cunningham legacy while refracting it for our times through Gill’s unique lens.
Saturday, June 3
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
To celebrate Merce Cunningham: Common Time, Patricia Lent and Jamie Scott, both former members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, will conduct movement workshops for community dancers culminating in outdoor public showings of Merce Cunningham’s Field Dances (1963). Subtitled “Dances for Everyone,” this indeterminate work utilizes everyday movement designed for people of all ages and with any level of dance training or experience. The outdoor showings will be presented during the re-opening festivities of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Merce Cunningham: Common Time Related Events
Thursday, March 8, 6:00pm
Mediateque screening of Locale and Channels/Inserts with post-screening Q&A with Charles Atlas
Tuesday, April 4, 2–3:30pm
Movement in Time and Space: An Introduction to Cunningham Technique®
Choosing Chance: An Introduction to Chance Procedures in the Work of Merce Cunningham, 6–7:30pm
lead by former Merce Cunningham Dance Company members Andrea Weber and Dylan Crossman.
Sharing Common Time
Walker Art Center
Wednesday, April 5–Saturday, April 8
Join us for four days of programs that explore the range of Merce Cunningham’s legacy across the arts. All programs are free and open to the public.
Wednesday, April 5, 6–8 pm, Cinema
Former MCDC dancers share their experiences as members of Cunningham’s company. Moderated by Bonnie Brooks, associate professor of dance at Columbia College, Chicago.
Composed: Exploring Events
Thursday, April 6, 6:30 pm, Garden Terrace Room
Two musicians who participated in Walker Cunningham Events explain the structure used to create sound for the Events in a lecture demonstration. Followed by a discussion led by University of Minnesota musicologist Michael Gallope.
The Body and Expanded Cinema
Friday, April 7, 7:30 pm, Cinema
Delve deeper into the world of expanded cinema and dance for camera with a screening of avant-garde films by Elaine Summers, and Nam June Paik including the world premiere of rare dance for camera works by Stan VanDerBeek. Followed by a conversation.
Creating in Common Time
Saturday, April 8, 2–4 pm, Cinema
Three art historians present their research on Cunningham’s collaborations with visual artists Isamu Noguchi, Robert Morris, and Robert Rauschenberg. Moderated by Walker adjunct curator Joan Rothfuss.
ABOUT THE WALKER ART CENTER AND THE MINNEAPOLIS SCULPTURE GARDEN
One of the most celebrated art museums and multidisciplinary art centers internationally, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is known for presenting today’s most compelling artists from around the world, as well as modern masters. In addition to traveling exhibitions and its worldrenowned collection, the Walker presents a broad array of contemporary music, dance, design, and theater, and the best in film and moving image arts. The 12-acre Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of the country’s largest urban sculpture parks and first of its kind. At its center is the beloved Twin Cities landmark—the playful fountain-sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. walkerart.org
ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CHICAGO
The MCA Chicago is one of the nation’s largest multidisciplinary museums devoted to the art of our time. With an international reputation for presenting ground-breaking exhibitions, the MCA documents contemporary visual culture through painting, sculpture, photography, film, and video. The performing arts program, MCA Stage, features leading performers from around the globe in its 300-seat theater. Located near the historic Water Tower in the heart of downtown Chicago, the MCA features special exhibition spaces, a gift store, restaurant, and a terraced sculpture garden with a view of Lake Michigan. mcachicago.org
Merce Cunningham: Common Time is organized by the Walker Art Center. Lead support for the project is provided by the Barnett and Annalee Newman Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Generous support is also provided by Agnes Gund and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.
Major support for the Walker’s commissions and presentation is provided by the William and Nadine McGuire Commissioning Fund, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
Additional support is generously provided by Molly Davies, the Goodale Family Foundation, the HRK Foundation, Pamela and C. Richard Kramlich, the McKnight Foundation, Leni and David Moore, Jr./The David and Leni Moore Family Foundation, Linda and Larry Perlman, Barbara Pine, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and the Unity Avenue Foundation in memory of Sage and John Cowles. Media partner Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.
Tesseract ◻ (film) was commissioned and produced by EMPAC/ Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and co-commissioned by Triangle France
Tesseract ⚪ (live performance) was co-commissioned by the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center EMPAC/ at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the Walker Art Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and On the Boards.
Tesseract was made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Tesseract was developed, in part, through residencies at EMPAC/ Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and The Watermill Center.
Brand New Sidewalk is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund project created in partnership with the Walker Art Center, The Yard, American Dance Festival, and NPN. Support is provided by Producers’ Council members King’s Fountain/Barbara Watson Pillsbury and Henry Pillsbury.
The Walker Art Center’s Music Season media partner