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PRINT February 2006

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1000 WORDS: CATHERINE SULLIVAN

HEINRICH VON KLEIST tells the story of a famous dancer who, praising the marionette theater, suggests that a mechanical figure could be designed to “perform a dance that neither he nor any other outstanding dancer of his time . . . could equal.” For this marionette’s every movement, he claims, would be more graceful than any person’s—akin to that of a pendulum, whose insentient motion is determined solely by an unwavering center of gravity.

Kleist’s legendary discourse comes to mind when considering Catherine Sullivan’s most recent work, The Chittendens, 2005, whose evolution also began with a notion of the performer’s “self-possession” (or lack thereof). For this group of films, the artist asked sixteen actors to execute scripted sequences of what she calls “attitudes”—behavioral cues ranging from the emotive catatonia and melancholic loss to the physical bayonet in the back, golf swing,

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