Never Pure Source: In Response to Merce Cunningham

1960s: Days of Rage


“… In 1960s diaries and letters, Merce Cunningham records days spent cooking beans and watching television, flipping between old movies, the news, and variety shows. In different spaces in which he lived and worked throughout the decades, I imagine him solo, or alongside his partner John (Cage), using chance to determine structure of movement in time and space—throwing hexagrams, flipping coins, tossing dice, opening his work up to other flows. TV waves discharging into the ether, refracted in choreographic form. Western movement, for the first time, unhinged from the frontal perspective of the proscenium, holding multiple centers, requiring many attentions—discontinuous, infinite, prismatic like nature and television. When you open your process up to the unknown, what other logics are let in? Does chance have interiority? Authorial voice, perspective, desire? Though many who worked with Merce insist chance was only one strategy by which he made dances, decisions made by generating…

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