David Velasco

  • Left: Luis Pérez-Oramas, chief curator of the 30th São Paulo Bienal. Right: Teatro Oficina director José Celso Martinez Corrêa and Serpentine codirector Hans Ulrich Obrist.
    diary September 19, 2012

    Poet’s Problem

    “IT IS NOT THE CITY that needs the biennial but the biennial that needs the city,” explained Luis Pérez-Oramas, the MoMA-trained chief curator of the Thirtieth São Paulo Bienal. “Unlike Venice or Documenta, we work in a very complex place.” In Kassel and Venice, the exhibition takes charge. But São Paulo’s is the largest city in the southern hemisphere, the most expensive metropolis in the western hemisphere, and probably a few other superlatives besides. The city bears down, splintering the exhibition experience.

    So we held on and took our time with the three thousand or so works battening Oscar

  • Page from Artforum 12, no. 5 (January 1974). Annette Michelson, “Yvonne Rainer, Part One: The Dancer and the Dance.” Shown: Production still by Babette Mangolte of Yvonne Rainer’s Lives of Performers, 1972.

    David Velasco on Annette Michelson’s “The Dancer and the Dance” and “Lives of Performers”

    BEFORE SHE BECAME the doyenne of film theory, Annette Michelson was also a champion of what some anachronistically called the New Dance. In her first feature article in Artforum, on André Breton, in the September 1966 issue devoted to Surrealism, there is this:

    One of the beautiful and important works of art I have seen this year . . . was a choreography (The Mind is a Muscle by Yvonne Rainer) in which movement and the evocation or figuration of its absence tended to assume the nature and presence of objects. More urgently than any theoretical or speculative contexts, a work of this sort poses

  • interviews July 24, 2012

    Steve Paxton

    Steve Paxton was born in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1939 and moved to New York in 1958. There, he danced with the Merce Cunningham Company from 1961 to 1964 and was a central player in a number of profound shifts in modern dance, helping found the Judson Dance Theater in 1962 and the group Grand Union in 1970.

    Yvonne Rainer likes to joke that she invented running and Paxton invented walking, and indeed many of Paxton’s early works—including Proxy, 1961, Transit, 1962, English, 1963, and Satisfyin Lover, 1967—made salient the act of walking. Paxton is also known as a founder of the movement technique

  • Left: Yvonne Rainer, The Mind Is a Muscle (first version), 1966. Performance view, Judson Church, New York, NY, May 24, 1966. Right: Yvonne Rainer, Parts of Some Sextets, 1965. Performance view, Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, March 6, 1965. Robert Morris, Lucinda Childs, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay, Tony Holder, Sally Gross, Robert Rauschenberg, Judith Dunn, and Joseph Schlichter. Photos: Peter Moore © Estate of Peter Moore / VAGA.
    interviews July 10, 2012

    Yvonne Rainer

    The choreographer, dancer, writer, and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer was born in San Francisco in 1934 and moved to New York in the 1950s, where she helped cofound the Judson Dance Theater in 1962. This summer marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first concerts at Judson Church, and to commemorate the occasion, artforum.com is presenting a series of interviews with key participants in the group.

    JUDSON’S IN MY GENES! I mean probably more than for the others. It was such a defining period for me. I came to New York in 1956 to study at the Herbert Berghof School of Acting. I studied with Lee Grant, who

  • Sarah Michelson, Devotion Study #1—The American Dancer, 2012. Performance view, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, February 26, 2012. Nicole Mannarino. Photo: Paula Court.

    David Velasco

    DAVID VELASCO

    HERE IS A BODY: Nicole Mannarino—arms open, Afro teased, hippie-angelic in her electric-blue jumpsuit (kimono sleeves, plunging V-neck divulging everything in glimpses)—drenched head to toe in sweat. Hers was a nitty-gritty body, a devoted body, on full display, taking it all in and giving it up with a grace and equanimity that carved straight to the heart of the show.

    This was my take-home image from the 2012 Whitney Biennial. Mannarino, a performer in Sarah Michelson’s Devotion Study #1—The American Dancer, 2012, was at once singular and emblematic in a Biennial shot

  • “Tino Sehgal 2012”

    Writing a “preview” of a Tino Sehgal show is like telling a soothsayer’s fortune. What can you say in advance of a work that only exists as a contemporaneous situation, and that, furthermore, is entangled in an apparatus (the Tate Modern’s spectacular, annual Unilever Series in the Turbine Hall) that embargoes any pertinent preproduction details? Given that Sehgal often targets the art world’s ecosystem, this critic begins to feel that his own convoluted divagations are anticipated, nay, encouraged—complicit with a dialectical conspiracy

  • Richard Maxwell and New York City Players, Untitled, 2012. Rehearsal view, Whitney Museum of American Art, April 24, 2012. Photo: Sascha van Riel.
    interviews April 25, 2012

    Richard Maxwell

    Richard Maxwell is a New York–based playwright and theater director, and a recent recipient of a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. Maxwell wrote the text used in Sarah Michelson’s Devotion Study #1—The American Dancer, which recently won the Whitney Biennial’s Bucksbaum Award. His own contribution to the Whitney Biennial, a public rehearsal with his company, New York City Players, will run on the museum’s fourth floor from Wednesday, April 25 to Sunday, April 29.

    WE DIDN’T WANT to just do a show on the Whitney’s fourth floor. It didn’t make sense to carry over the trappings of theater into a

  • Left: Dennis Cooper, material from “The George Miles Cycle.” Courtesy of the artist and Fales Library at New York University. Right: View of “Closer—The Dennis Cooper Papers.”
    interviews March 30, 2012

    Dennis Cooper

    Dennis Cooper is an American writer and artist based in Paris. In 1987 he moved from New York to Amsterdam, where he wrote his novel Closer (1989), the first book in his celebrated pentalogy, “The George Miles Cycle” (1989–2000). “Closer—The Dennis Cooper Papers,” an exhibition based on the cycle and incorporating works by Vincent Fecteau and Falke Pisano as well as a new commission by Trisha Donnelly, is on view at the Kunstverein in Amsterdam through June 23, 2012.

    WELL, YOU PROBABLY KNOW that George Miles was very troubled. When we met I was fifteen, and he was twelve. I was taking care of

  • A. K. Burns and A. L. Steiner, Community Action Center, 2010, color video, 69 minutes. Production stills. Right: Rhys Ernst and Mai Khunt.
    film March 11, 2012

    Queer Eyes

    The little cretin shepardess was now ruined for normal love and she ran amok among the other freaks, inflaming them.

    —Jack Smith, “Normal Love,” 1963

    SOME FEMININE PRODUCTS: Makeup, paint, and brushes. Floggers and Boston creams. Joints. Bananas that bleed when stabbed. Bloody pinkies poked through magazine pages and punctured beer cans held in taut tighty-whiteys. Watermelons split by samurai swords. Adult babies sprung from clay wombs.

    FEMININE PRODUCTS says the sign, hoisted atop a stretched canvas above a slew of art supplies. It is both the literal and the conceptual establishing shot

  • Safdie Architects, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 2011, Bentonville, AR. Photo: Timothy Hursley.

    The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

    “BENTONVILLE, ARKANSAS is a city in Northwest Arkansas, and county seat of Benton County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 35,301 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Fayetteville–Springdale–Rogers, AR-MO Metropolitan Statistical Area. Bentonville is also home to the Wal-Mart Home Offices, headquarters of Walmart Stores, the largest private employer and retailer in the world.”

    The succinct, just-the-facts style of Wikipedia goes a lot further in fixing the surfaces of Bentonville than any lyric acrobatics might. A location scout would have trouble picking the town out of a lineup;

  • Neal Medlyn, Wicked Clown Love, 2012. Press images. Left: Photo: Allison Michael Orenstein. Right: Neal Medlyn. Photo: Neal Medlyn.
    interviews February 01, 2012

    Neal Medlyn

    Wicked Clown Love is the sixth work in Neal Medlyn’s ongoing series of performances based around pop stars. Prior pieces have considered recording artists such as Lionel Richie, Phil Collins, and Britney Spears; his latest component builds on the music and culture of Insane Clown Posse. The show, which features design by Madeline Best (lighting), Kathleen Hanna (set), and Larry Krone (costume), will have its premiere at The Kitchen in New York from February 2 to 4.

    THE ANNUAL GATHERING of the Juggalos takes place in the middle of absolutely nowhere—a corner of the woods on the Ohio River in

  • The Merce Cunningham Dance Company in Park Avenue Armory Events. Jennifer Goggans, Dylan Crossman, and Jamie Scott. (Photo: Stephanie Berger)
    diary January 03, 2012

    End Days

    ON THE LAST THREE NIGHTS OF 2011, I attended five of the final six performances of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. Even a few dance journalists, from whom you might expect a degree of sympathy, suggested it was a bit eccentric to see so many.

    To sign off on my own delusion, I’ll admit that my only nagging thought was, “Why did I not get tickets to all six?” (Several friends had.) I explained to skeptics that, with multidirectional dance going on three different stages simultaneously, there was just so much to see, and that I would have just been at home otherwise, so why not spend the extra