Critics’ Picks

Yvonne Rainer, Trio A, 1966. Performance view, Raven Row, London, July 2014.

Yvonne Rainer, Trio A, 1966. Performance view, Raven Row, London, July 2014.


Yvonne Rainer

Raven Row
56 Artillery Lane
July 11–August 10, 2014

Curator Catherine Wood takes Yvonne Rainer’s 1966 observation that “Dance is hard to see” as a point of departure in this exhibition, making the polymath’s groundbreaking choreography from 1961 to 1972 visible in a variety of media. Four times daily, dancers who were trained for this occasion by Rainer and her longtime collaborator Pat Catterson file into the heart of the gallery and perform a forty-five-minute program consisting of four of Rainer’s key pieces from the 1960s. These include Trio A, 1966, the most oft-cited piece to emerge from Rainer’s early experiments with neutral, nonexpressive, and ordinary movement.

If dance is hard to see—fleeting and multidimensional even in the immediate—it is harder to archive. Yet when displayed in combination with live performance, materials such as those shown here—early choreography scores, film and photography of performances, an audio recording from one of Rainer’s performative lectures—enhance one’s ability to see dance, rather than having to supplant it. For example, Rainer’s earliest scores and choreographic instructions, displayed in the first rooms, prepare visitors to perceive a precision in the dancers’ ticks and twists. Jagged trajectories drawn in crayon map the overlapping spatial interactions of three dancers (Three Satie Spoons, 1960–62) while a typed list enumerates commands such as “15. Stop left foot - draw right leg turned in across left as arms jazzy 2nd...” (from Holst Solos, 1963). In the performances that punctuate this show, the minimalism of these instructions is complicated by the freshly visible bodily effort to carry them out.