Steve Paxton, Physical Things
On October 13th and 19th 1966, Steve Paxton occupied the large hall of the Arsenal of the 69th Regiment of New York with a gigantic polyethylene inflatable structure: an installation made up of long tunnels, a room and a tower, through which the spectators were invited to move. Equipped with a small pocket radio, each person was able to pick up the waves of a soundtrack composed by Robert Ashley.
This participative work, which appeared to Steve Paxton in his sleep, marks the climax and the end of a series of performances made by the artist with inflatable structures. The idea dear to the Judson Dance Theater to push back the limit between dancers and non-dancers reaches a radical form here, as the entire space is left to the public, free to stroll through an environment designed by the choreographer. This maze of synthetic guts, entitled Physical Things, proposes, however, a series of experiences that have a relationship with the body and its intimate perception. At certain points of the itinerary, anatomic visions emerge from the crowd: a young woman covered with liquid crystals, coloured by her blood circulation, moving pieces of flesh isolated by a black veil, twins observing passers-by. While in the tower the public is exposed to a continuous humming, in the room images from nature are projected onto an artificial tree.
In the early 1960’s, Steve Paxton was a dancer with the Jose Limon company. From 1961 to 1965, he performed in several works by Merce Cunningham. In 1962, Paxton became one of the founding members of the Judson Dance Theatre. Like his collaborators, he attempted to break down the traditional barriers between dancers and non-dancers. Following this period of joint creation with the members of the Judson Dance Theatre, he developed the technique of contact improvisation. With this method, dancers are continuously interacting with each other to create a series of movements. It has influenced many choreographers and is widely used as a teaching tool.
Since the late 1970’s, Paxton has largely left the performance world, devoting himself primarily to training workshops and writing. He nevertheless still delivers some improvised solo performances and collaborates with choreographers, composers, and artists, including Robert Ashley, Trisha Brown, Boris Charmatz, Kathy Duck, Lisa Nelson, and Vera Mantero.
Source : Website Fondation Langlois, Vincent Bonin © 2006 FDL
More information :
Artistic direction / Conception
Karen Bacon; Bill Finley; Sue Harnett; Margaret Hecht; Michael Kirby; Clark Poling; Phyllis Santis; Elaine Sturtevant; David White; David Whitney and several other anonymous participants
Jennifer Tipton, Beverly Emmons (assistant)
Karen Bacon; Walter Gebb; John Giorno; Margaret Hecht; Tony Holder; Larry Leitc (technical assistance)
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