RoseLee Goldberg

  • Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane & Co.

    If you were to ask ten people about art and politics, probably not one would mention dance as vehicle of powerful protest. Yet the first seasons of the ’90s have already witnessed several works that tackle political issues via this unlikely form.

    With Last Supper At Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land, 1990, Bill T. Jones has realized a manifesto for dance protest, demonstrating how movement, music, conversation, text, costume, and set can be combined to rouse an audience to action. Here the audience absorbs political polemics while virtually dancing along with Jones in the aisles. Combining a

  • Molissa Fenley

    Molissa Fenley has found a highly personal and effective means of making silent dances speak of social and moral distress. No narrative, no costume, no painted backdrop could better have demonstrated the possibility of spiritual healing through physical control than Fenley’s distinctive body language, poignantly accented by David Moodie’s lighting design.

    The challenge Fenley set herself was to trigger emotional responses and suggest narrative directions, using an essentially abstract form, and in her recent homage to the wildlife lost by the Alaskan oil spill of March 1989, she did just that.

  • Holly Hughes

    Thanks to some heavy breathing in the halls of congress, Holly Hughes’ World Without End, 1989, a very intimate production, which was never intended for a mass audience, has captured the imagination of the mainstream media. Since World Without End premiered at P.S. 122 last season, it has gone full circle around the country (Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C.); indeed, no one could invent a better trailblazer for their work than the lurid, tale-telling media that finds evil in the things artists say, rather than in the things congressmen do.

    Who would expect a work to hold up to such overwhelmingly

  • Jane Comfort and Company

    In a new work entitled Deportment, Jane Comfort concentrates on what she knows best—choreography built on language, with its rhythms, not its meaning, providing the underlying score for her dramatic dance. The result is her most complex and confident work to date.

    Comfort probably talks more on stage than any other contemporary choreographer, yet one is never surprised or embarrassed when she or her dancers speak and act. Comfort sets the stage with words; in a dry, wry amplified female voice with heavy southern accent, she reads from Emily Post, giving calm yet emphatic directions as to how to

  • Sesame Street

    IMAGINE E. T. BACK at the house on the hill again. He’s left the refrigerator door open, again, and the motor hums. Then, there he stands, in front of the television set, slowly turning the dial, looking for something or someone he remembers from his last visit. He stops, wide-eyed, then blinks hullo at the furry blue monster that he had in mind. The creature in the box responds with a rousing soliloquy about the number 9, which then flashes repeatedly on the screen.

    E. T. has decided to return to earth to learn about America, Baudrillard-style, through Sesame Street. Along with millions about

  • YOU ARE A CAMERA

    JOHN JESURUN WAS on his his way to becoming an independent filmmaker when he decided one day to make a film without using a camera. “Let the audience be the camera,” he said,1 when faced with the endless task of raising money to put finished reels in the can. This pragmatic approach accidentally launched a career in theater.

    “I knew nothing about theater at the time, but then neither did my audience,” this Yale sculpture-school graduate, who initially wanted to make a film that would move around his objects, says of his first live work, Chang in a Void Moon. It was at the Pyramid Club—a long

  • TWO SIDES OF THE BRAIN: MOLISSA FENLEY’S HEMISPHERES

    FOR MANY ARTISTS OF THE ’70s, when the great Return to Painting occurred around 1977 it was as though sacred vows had been broken. Artists who had assumed a common ideology, or at least a simultaneity of languages, turned their backs on one another and on a period of open discourse about media and mediums, withdrawing behind pre-1968 lines. It was as though the art world had been given a new interior, where everyone was once again assigned a specific office, with each frosted glass door marked by profession—“Painter,” “Photographer,” “Sculptor,” “Dancer,” “Musician.” The euphony of voices that

  • Oskar Schlemmer’s Performance Art

    IF PERFORMANCE WORKS HAVE ONLY recently been considered as “mainstream” art in their own right, the full range of certain earlier artists’ work has often been excluded in the name of art historical “correctness,” with its concentration on existing visual objects. Activities outside conventional categories such as painting and sculpture have largely been overlooked for lack of tangible objects to which to refer.

    The history of performance, like a history of theatre, can only be constructed from scripts, texts, photographs and descriptions from onlookers. What was once to be seen, or to be heard,