Judson Dance Theater, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Museum of Modern Art
  • Anna Halprin, The Branch, 1957. Photo: Warner Jepson, courtesy of the Estate of Warner Jepson
  • Philip Corner, Intermission, 1963. Photo: Peter Moore, © Barbara Moore/ VAGA, NY, courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, NY
  • Yvonne Rainer, We Shall Run, 1963. Photo: Peter Moore, © Barbara Moore/VAGA, NY, courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, NY
  • Simone Forti, Huddle, 1961. Photo : Paula Court
  • Simone Forti, Slant Board, 1961. Photo : Paula Court
  • Installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018-2019. Photo: Peter Butler, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art
  • Installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018-2019. Photo: Peter Butler, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art
  • Installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018-2019. Photo: Peter Butler, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art
  • Installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018-2019. Photo: Peter Butler, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art
  • Installation view, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018-2019. Photo: Peter Butler, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art

[En anglais]

Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done
Museum of Modern Art, New York
September 16, 2018–February 3, 2019

There was something spectacular and deeply moving in watching Yvonne Rainer and Simone Forti perform iconic choreographies of their own repertoire during the opening of Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done at the Museum of Modern Art. Both in their early 80s, the artists received ovations from the crowd gathered to witness a piece of experimental dance history, a monument of New York City’s downtown avant-garde. Surrounded by an exhibition that traces the contours of Judson Dance Theatre—through film, photography, sculptural objects, musical scores, poetry, and other archival materials—the performances brought to life a short yet vibrant and critical cultural moment. Carefully overseeing the execution of their works in the exhibition by contributing to its texture through their own presence, Rainer and Forti’s movements alongside past and present generations of dancers/performers foregrounded the relevance of the exhibition, confirming that in fact the work is [still not] done.

Within four thoroughly filled yet carefully designed galleries dedicated to the exhibition, the impact of the Judson Dance Theater is made clear as it relates to broader art canons. Curated by Ana Janevski (Curator), Thomas J. Lax (Associate Curator), and Martha Joseph (Curatorial Assistant) from the Department of Media and Performance Art, Judson Dance Theatrer: The Work Is Never Done effectively combines rigorous archival research with the demands of revenue-generating exhibitions. Focusing on a collective of artists who during a brief period created solo and collaborative works in and around the Judson Memorial Church, the exhibition elevates the experiential significance of viewing historical performance work in a live contemporary context. Subdivided into three sections—Workshops, Downtown, and Sanctuary—the curatorial narrative highlights the arc in which participants stripped dance of its theatrical conventions and redefined the parameters of movement for future generations. In doing so, it draws attention to the pedagogy and ecosystem generated by Anna and Lawrence Halprin in California; spatializes Judson as a Downtown phenomenon which came about in conjunction with the revolutionary Reuben Gallery; and celebrates the presence of countless seminal visual artists who took part in the collective (Carolee Schneemann, Robert Rauschenberg, Philip Corner). It also demonstrates how the group incorporated quotidian gestures by basing scores on games, simple tasks, and social dances. Adopting a process-driven, environment-conscious, intermedia-savvy, and improvisational group dynamic, the activities of the Judson Dance Theater “sanctuary” revolutionized both the performing and visual arts.

With a series of performances programmed in The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, MoMA’s capacious white-walled landing where thousands of daily visitors wander, the exhibition promises to initiate a broad audience to a breadth of visually striking and kinaesthetically provoking practices. These include the live works of Deborah Hay (September 24–October 7); Lucinda Childs (October 22–November 4); Steve Paxton (November 19–December 16); and Trisha Brown (December 17–January 16), all of whom have gained international recognition as artists and choreographers. Alongside the moving-image projection designed by Charles Atlas, which employs archival material related to the performance program, the depth of live and documented performances ingeniously captures the workshop-focused, unconventional, and spontaneous energy of the Judson Dance Theater. The wealth of original footage, still images, and articles produced by Jill Johnston, Peter Moore, and Al Giese provides unparalleled insight into the inner workings and happenings of the collective as they unfolded in real time. Firmly grounded in the fabric of its historical past while projecting itself forward, Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done offers its audience a live, acoustic, and kinesthetic portal into the vitality of a generational movement.

Captions

Image 1: Anna Halprin, The Branch, performed on the Halprin family's Dance Deck, Kentfield, California, 1957. Performers: A.A. Leath, Anna Halprin, Simone Forti. Photo: Warner Jepson, courtesy of the Estate of Warner Jepson

Image 2: Philip Corner, Intermission, performed at Concert Dance #13, Judson Memorial Church, New York, November 20, 1963. Photo: Peter Moore, © Barbara Moore/ VAGA, New York, courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Image 3: Yvonne Rainer, We Shall Run, 1963, performed at Two Evenings of Dances, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, March 7, 1965. Performers: Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Schlichter (hidden), Sally Gross, Tony Holder, Deborah Hay, Yvonne Rainer, Alex Hay, Robert Morris (behind), and Lucinda Childs. Photo: Peter Moore, © Barbara Moore/VAGA, New York, courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York

Image 4: Simone Forti, Huddle, 1961, performed in Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done, MoMA, New York, 2018-2019. Performers: Martita Abril, Vanessa Vargas, Alexis Ruiseco-Lombera, Lindsay Londs Reuter, Samuel Hanson, Christiana Cefalu, Elizabeth Hart, Laura Pfeffer, Migual Ángel Guzmán. Photo : Paula Court © 2018, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Image 5: Simone Forti, Slant Board, 1961, performed in Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done, MoMA, New York, 2018-2019. Performers: Laura Pfeffer, Alexis Ruiseco-Lombera, Samuel Hanson. Photo : Paula Court © 2018, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Images 6 to 10: Installation view, Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2018-2019. Photo: Peter Butler, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art

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