Beginning on April 28, the Museum Ludwig, Cologne, will show the first European retrospective of Yvonne Rainer. It was developed in tandem with the Kunsthaus Bregenz and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles. Yvonne Rainer already participated in the 1977 Documenta; New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Tate Modern in London dedicated film retrospectives to her. With “Space, Body, Language,“ the Museum Ludwig and the Kunsthaus Bregenz present for the first time the entire multi-facetted oeuvre of Yvonne Rainer.
Yvonne Rainer is a choreographer, dancer, activist, poet, and filmmaker. All her artistic activities are interrelated. As dancer, choreographer and filmmaker, Yvonne Rainer has influenced continously, for over fifty years, art, dance, and film. Her interdisciplinary work is especially highly relevant today. Yvonne Rainer was born in San Francisco in 1934 and moved to New York as early as 1957, where she studied dance with the legends Martha Graham and Merce Cunningham. However, she soon moved away from their influence as expressive dance and the phenomenon of chance became increasingly less interesting to her. Her experiences with the dancer Anna Halprin and the musician Robert Dunn, who had been trained by John Cage, led to the founding of the Judson Dance Theater in New York in the early 1960s. This is also the time when she began to develop friendships with Simone Forti, David Gordon, Steve Paxton, and Trisha Brown. At the Judson, Yvonne Rainer was in close contact with such artists as Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Morris, and Carl Andre, who were involved in her dance pieces as actors or in other ways. Today, her comparison of Minimal Art and dance is legendary. In it, she demonstrates how close the advanced practices of visual artists and dance were in the 1960s.
In the 1970s, Yvonne Rainer turned her back on the stage and began to direct movies. In them, she united fiction and reality as well as personal and political views in a highly idiosyncratic approach. Her seven feature films, made between 1972 and 1996, belong to the most extraordinary works of late 20th-century film history. In 2000, Yvonne Rainer began again to work as a choreographer. The pieces she quotes contain elements of popular culture, sports, and the history of dance in general. She also quotes her own works. The Museum Ludwig owns early works of Yvonne Rainer’s friends like Robert Rauschenberg, John Cage, Claes Oldenburg, Bruce Nauman, and Robert Morris. Also within the last decade the museum began to incorporate works by Tino Sehgal, Roman Ondak, and Michele di Menna into its collection, artists whose work represents performance-oriented positions. Therefore, it is particularly important to the Museum Ludwig to present the work of Yvonne Rainer: Until now, this important link between the American avant-garde of the 1960s and the performance tendencies of recent art has been underrepresented. For the Cologne venue of the exhibition, the artist Heimo Zobernig (born 1958) will create a special space constellation. In this project, he will juxtapose his own work, “Untilted”, to Robert Rauschenberg’s 1968 piece, entitled “Soundings.” The interaction between exhibits and exhibition architecture reacts to the issue of how dance and film can be jointly shown in an art museum.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes and by the Kunststiftung NRW.
Curators of the exhibition: Dr. Barbara Engelbach (Museum Ludwig Köln), Yilmaz Dziewior (Kunsthaus Bregenz)