Charles Atlas

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson, World’s Fair, Brussels, Belgium, 1958, black-and-white photograph, 12 x 8 1/8". © Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos.


    To take stock of the past year, Artforum contacted an international group of artists to find out which exhibitions and events were, in their eyes, the very best of 2010.


    Jean-Pascal Flavien, No Drama House (Galerie Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin) Constructed in the gallery’s garden, Flavien’s house starts with a series of unsolvable problems—no center, too many corridors, too narrow—and then allows other things to happily get in the way. There’s a basement, but it’s aboveground outside. There’s a front door, but it’s on the second floor. Is there a garage? Who forgot the kitchen? There’s

  • Marina Abramović and Ulay, Relation in Time, 1977. Performance view, Studio G7, Bologna, 1977. Original performance 17 hours. © 2010 Marina Abramović/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

    Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present

    Marina Abramović will premiere a work that will be a daily ritual: She’s going to be in the museum every day, all day, sitting at a table, and any visitor can come and sit there for as long as they want.

    I FIRST ENCOUNTERED MARINA ABRAMOVIĆ in 1989. We had been asked to collaborate for a video art series produced by Spanish television. And I remember thinking at the time that if she was as brave as her performances indicated, then of course she would want to work with someone she didn’t know. We both happened to be in London, so we met for tea, and we each chose a cake: She picked a rectangular one, I picked a round one, and I thought, “This is perfect—we are opposites in so many ways; this could be interesting.”

    The result was a six-minute video piece titled SSS. Marina

  • Charles Atlas, Hail the New Puritan, 1985–86, stills from a color film in 16 mm transferred to video, 84 minutes 47 seconds. Stills courtesy Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), New York.


    The filmmaker and video artist Charles Atlas has been working at the intersections of art, music, performance, and contemporary dance for over thirty years. Recently celebrated for his biographical documentaries on past collaborators such as Merce Cunningham and Leigh Bowery, he has also created several films and videos featuring Michael Clark, including Hail the New Puritan (1985–86) and Because We Must (1989). He continues to act as lighting director for Clark’s dance productions. Here he discusses his work with dance, and with Clark in particular.

    I worked with Merce Cunningham from 1974 to 1983. I had done films before working with Merce—some great films. But my first actual video was with Merce. I was hired as an assistant stage manager and I was thrilled at the opportunity because I just loved him; all I really liked in dance at that time was Merce. I was just a kid and terrified of him at the beginning, and I was in awe of all these people—John Cage and Bob Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. But he was great to work with—the best collaborator. There was total freedom and at the same time respect for each other’s work. I realized that I’d