Robert Rauschenberg, Open Score
Open Score is the performance by Robert Rauschenberg given on October 14th and 23rd 1966. It opens with a tennis match between a man and a woman, where the sound of the balls hitting the rackets is amplified. Little by little the couple is plunged into darkness, leaving a ghostly crowd projected on three screens suspended above the public.
Out of the ten performances given as part of 9 Evenings, that by Robert Rauschenberg is one of the most refined. Like Kisses Sweeter than Wine by Öyvind Falhström, it does not emphasise the technological paraphernalia placed at the artists’ disposal by the engineers from Bell but rather proposes a stage set-up in which technique disappears behind the composition of enigmatic tableaux. Nothing suggests the transmitters tucked away in the rackets’ handles, or the infra-red camera, the first of its kind, that reconstructs the image of a crowd hidden in darkness while enveloping it in a strange pale light. The fact that the technique is invisible bestows on Open Score, an open metaphor left to the interpretation of the public, a magical and even a fantasy or mystical dimension. On the second evening Rauschenberg was to add a coda to it: the wrapped body of a woman (Simone Forti) singing an Italian lament, whom the artist moves in his arms to various places on the stage.
Source : Sylvain Maestreggi
Artistic direction / Conception
9 Evenings : Theatre & Engineering
We owe 9 Evenings: Theatre & Engineering, a series of performances presented in the large building of the Arsenal of the 69th Regiment of New York, in October 1966, to the complicity between the visual artist Robert Rauschenberg and Billy Klüver, an engineer with the telephone company Bell. The concept was simple: allow a dozen artists to achieve the performance of their dreams thanks to the technology of the Bell laboratories.
Born from the experimentations of the members of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Judson Dance Theatre, the 9 Evenings mark a decisive step in the changing relationship between art and technology. Evening after evening, projectors, video cameras, transistors, amplifiers, electrodes and oscilloscopes entered the stage at the service of ambitious, futuristic, iconoclastic or poetic visions – all filmed in black and white and in colour. When these films were rediscovered in 1995, Billy Klüver decided, in partnership with Julie Martin and the director Barbro Schultz Lundestam, to produce a series of documentaries reconstructing what had taken place on the stage and during the preparation of the performances. The original material was thus completed by interviews with the protagonists of each performance (artists and engineers) and a few famous guests. The 9 Evenings would thereby be restored to their place in the history of art.
Source : Sylvain Maestreggi