The Collaborative Legacy of Merce Cunningham exhibition reflects on the nature of the work between Merce Cunningham and the equally important artists, composers and designers with whom he created works, and upon his unique method of collaboration on these works “in space and time.”
Seven of the works documented in The Collaborative Legacy are those by Cunningham and his collaborators, spanning from the early years of his company [Minutiae, 1954] to his last work [Nearly Ninety, 2009]. These dances coexisted in time and space with “open-ended sound scores” by John Cage, David Tudor, and Andrew Culver [Ocean] and music by Gavin Bryars, and more environmental art works by Robert Rauschenberg [Antic Meet and Minutiae], Jasper Johns [Walkaround Time], Andy Warhol [Rainforest], and the team of Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar of OpenEnded Group [BIPED]. The seven works give a sense of the varying degrees to which Cunningham’s dancers mingled in a shared space with volumetric elements, or, as in Nearly Ninety, co-existed as discreet events occurring on stage.
As a complement and counterpoint to these seven Cunningham collaborations, the exhibition documents seven collaborations between subsequent generations of choreographers with architects, revealing just the tip of the iceberg of this architectural “type.” More to the point, these other works reveal the diverse approaches to “content” and methods of collaborating in space and time.
Beth Weinstein, the exhibit’s curator, is a registered architect whose spatial practice focuses on collaborative performance projects in and out of proscenium space. Through her scholarship and practice, she focuses on sites of intersection between architectural and choreographic practices, ranging from the scale of the drawing board to urban space and landscapes. Beth studied design at Syracuse University (BFA) and earned a Master of Architecture from Columbia University. Prior to forming her own practice, Architecture Agency, she was a project architect in the Paris office of Jean Nouvel. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Arizona.
Jaafar Chalabi, studied architecture in Vienna, Austria and at the University of Maryland and received a PhD in Architecture and Movement. He is a lecturer for housing and spatial design at the University of Technology, Vienna, and a guest professor at the Ecole d'Architecture de Versailles, Versailles, France.