Barbara Baracks

  • Jill Kroesen

    Jill Kroesen’s 10-act, 21/2-hour presentation of all of Western history from Evolution to The End had minor difficulties. Twenty performers, props such as oatmeal and potatoes, missiles and limp swords, 10 countries, a bardo (the Tibetan afterworld), three social classes, memorized lines and throwaway lines, some songs, a reigning god called Mother and played by Michael Cooper, and her son, named Stanley Oil and played by Kroesen, are some of the components juggled in Stanley Oil and His Mother: A Systems Portrait of the Western World. The Western world, it turns out, is something like a Montessori

  • Laurie Anderson

    Laurie Anderson’s 24 tunes in the jukebox were available for 25 cents a play except for Thursdays, when they were free. Ten plaques on the wall represented lyrics, musical notations, photographs, and stories about the genesis of some of the music—but they were no substitute for the music itself, which, I’m told, is due to be released by the gallery as an LP.

    Despite the jukebox and the polished sound-studio work behind the songs, this was not another rock-in-art’s-clothing effort. Anderson translates personal sensibility into layers of technique independent of the 45-rpm market and, indeed, often

  • Yvonne Jacquette

    Van Gogh painted his own copy of Sudden Shower at Ohashi by the Japanese painter Hiroshige. Both painters used landscape as the ground for perception’s incomplete representation floating on paper’s or canvas’ perfect blank, as does Yvonne Jacquette. Jacquette copies from her own work, painting and drawing multiple versions, and often making monoprints from originals. Some pieces are oils on canvas, others are oil, pastel, gouache, or watercolor applied to glass or paper and transferred onto fine paper.

    Jacquette takes her views as much from city as from country. Out of earlier, almost Photo-Realist

  • Merce Cunningham

    An installation of Merce Cunningham’s dancing is surely a contradiction in terms. Cunningham’s own notes and notations, a videotape, and photographs spanning much of his career provide some approximation of Cunningham and his dance company’s vitality and precise movement. “You have to love dancing to stick with it,” Cunningham wrote in Changes: Notes on Choreography. “It gives you nothing back, no manuscripts to store away, no paintings to show on walls and maybe hang in museums, no poems to be printed and sold. Nothing but that single fleeting moment when you feel alive. It is not for unsteady

  • Einstein on the Beach

    EINSTEIN ON THE BEACH began ahead of time, though the doors to the theater opened late. While 3,800 people sorted themselves into orchestra and balconies, Lucinda Childs and Sheryl Sutton were already seated on stage, concentrating on work. They were seated behind two tables a little apart from each other. The stage floor below was painted in a white square, as was the drop behind them. Both women wore white shirts, suspenders, baggy pants, and basketball sneakers, as did the rest of the company, costumes modeled on a photograph of Albert Einstein wearing those clothes. The portable microphone

  • Buckminster Fuller

    Constructed out of various metal alloys, Buckminster Fuller’s Jitterbug is mounted on a vertical rod and undergoes a complex transformation when pressure is applied to a cuff on the rod. With a shape roughly the proportions of a round lollipop, the piece is comprised of 11 modular units, each unit a cube-octahedron with eight equilateral triangles and six squares.

    Fuller describes the cube-octahedron structure as being in a state of vector equilibrium, because it can, when pressure is directed, fold into its component parts: the icosahedron and octahedron. These units are based on the simplest

  • Dotty Attie

    Dotty Attie’s four sequences of words and drawings in tiny panels handle narration with a finely jaundiced eye. Drawn in graphite and lightly shaded with colored pencils, the panels’ flow is only occasionally distracted by bright colors representing such indiscretions as blood. The hand-drawn lettering accompanying—though set apart from—the panels has the slight wobble of old hand-set type.

    The visual vocabulary quotes details from Ingres, Caravaggio, and various 19th-century painters of landscape, portrait, and boudoir. These antecedents are so respected as to be suspect. Attie draws upon this,

  • Donna Dennis

    Four new constructions by Donna Dennis round out the facades of her earlier Hotel series. Two are based on subway stations, two on cottages. As before, they are scaled to be a little taller than the average person, but now they are finished on the sides, and sometimes back, as well, in loving detail.

    A box on the far wall behind a cottage provided a steady chirp of crickets. This particular cottage’s usual gallery lighting was augmented with three blue spotlights. Reconstruction from a photograph of a Maine bungalow, it was mounted on cinderblocks, and white clapboard is simulated by pencil lines

  • Max Neuhaus

    Soft sounds in Max Neuhaus’ Round at the Customs House were running around the two ovals of speakers, one oval inside the other. After disentangling myself from the conversations of people lounging on the floor or leaning against the oval marble platform (at one time the transom over which imports were judged), I moved through the network of face-up speakers, trying to separate out their tones. A low tone was regularly making the rounds, with higher tones also whipping around, but seeming to fade in and out. From my ears’ evidence I couldn’t tell if columns of overtones were supporting and

  • Charles Simonds and Mary Miss

    The first of MoMA’s projects galleries was filled with the miniature dwellings and geography of Charles Simonds’ Little People, an ancient civilization born in his mind around 1970. Among the hills, dried out waterholes, sacred sites marked with sticks, and half-ruined roads and pathways were an evolutionary network of dwellings ranging from V-shaped caves in the earth to adobelike clusters, circular and spiral remains of dwellings, and a modestly citylike complex in the far corner.

    The work’s real frame was a look through one of the two sets of binoculars mounted at eye level at the room’s

  • Nancy Wilson Kitchel

    The six deserted desks in two parallel rows were carefully unkempt, a drawer open here, a stuffed wastebasket there. They were presided over by what Olivetti calls a word processing system, converting computer tape into yards of Nancy Wilson Kitchel’s analysis of social strategies in the art/business world. As artist and officeworker, Kitchel has a carrying card in both sectors. Her statement, rolling out of the machine and onto the floor like a proclamation, explored a progression of contradictions about the individual’s illusion of autonomy in the controlled systems of art and business. At

  • Suzanne Harris

    The triangular sculpture and 12 drawings that comprise Suzanne Harris’ Dalet Series keep their geometric derivation to themselves. In the drawings each triangle is bisected by a line, the angle of line differing from triangle to triangle, but always creating two interior triangles within each of the larger figures, shaded gray with graphite. One of each pair of internal triangles has been shaded once again, with brick-red pastel.

    The hollow casting stands five feet high, with a wicked point on top; because it is a few degrees more obtuse than a right triangle it strains forward slightly, like a