Jim Self and Friends

Studio Performance

A dancer whose choreography has elements of both Graham’s expressionism and Rainer’s objectivity, Jim Self most resembles those Chicago-area visual artists who use the human body to exhibit metaphors of larger physical or social issues. I am thinking, for example, of Phil Berkman’s work in which props—perhaps broken peanut shells or bits of garbage—are strewn about a performance area and then gradually cleared away. Simultaneously, a personal territory is created and a symbolic form built up which maintains the threat of overcrowding. In White on White, Self and “friends” (Duncan Erley, Donna Mandel, and Wendy Swett) structure space and use materials, but they also define themselves as separate performers and set up several patterns of interrelationship.

Self’s work poses an art-life continuum. The whole performance takes a certain logic from the fact that only certain movements are allowed;

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