Tacita Dean: 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)


Walker Art Center
December 16, 2010–March 20, 2011

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.

Curator: Eric Crosby

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