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Elise Archias’s The Concrete Body

Yvonne Rainer, Three Seascapes, 1962. Rehearsal view, Judson Memorial Church, New York, 1963. Yvonne Rainer.
Photo: Al Giese. © Al Giese.

The Concrete Body: Yvonne Rainer, Carolee Schneemann, Vito Acconci, by Elise Archias. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016. 240 pages.

THE INVOLUNTARY EXPRESSIONS and accidental actions of bodies are at the center of Elise Archias’s account of 1960s and early-’70s performance. Taking three New York–based protagonists as her guides, Archias argues that Yvonne Rainer’s choreography of pedestrian movement, Carolee Schneemann’s material treatment of sensation, and Vito Acconci’s self-assigned feats of physical endurance all shared a capacity to make visible unintended behaviors on the part of their performers (who were sometimes themselves). These actions ranged from somatic reflexes to psychic drives. Archias contends that by developing strategies to release performing bodies from disciplined habits, and by presenting these bodies as uncontrolled matter, these artists answered a

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