Walker Art Center

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The Relighting of Merce Cunningham’s Canfield

By Mary Coyne April 21, 2017

A beam of light traversing the stage as the Merce Cunningham Dance Company performed Canfield (1969) was realized through a design by Robert Morris: a 25-foot aluminum column of lights mechanically moving along a track. Rarely seen since, the Canfield décor is now on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago exhibition Common Time, but only after six months of restoration by Walker technicians.  More

The décor for Canfield is on view in Merce Cunningham: Common Time at MCA Chicago through April 30, 2017. The Walker component of this dual-venue exhibition closes July 30, 2017.

Transforming Sonic Weaponry to Spirituality

By Louise Erdrich April 18, 2017

“For 100 days in Aristotle’s Lyceum, ghosts are speaking to ghosts. Restless contemporary spirits are interrogating the dead.” Novelist Louise Erdrich (LaRose, The Round House) considers a sound installation by the indigenous art collective Postcommodity at documenta that transforms military-grade audio weaponry—recently used against water protectors at Standing Rock—to serve more spiritual ends. More

Read “2043: No Es Un Sueño,” Postcommodity’s recent contribution to the ongoing Artist Op-Ed series.

What’s It Like to Be a Black Artist in the Twin Cities?

April 17, 2017

“Black work is inherently radical or political, just by the sheer fact that a Black person is making it. Your choice not to make work about being Black is just as important as making work about being Black.” Lara Mimosa Montes sits down with members of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design’s Black Artist Student Union to discuss their experiences navigating the Twin Cities scene as artists of color. More

Larger than Life: James Rosenquist (1933–2017)

By Misa Jeffereis April 4, 2017

“The reason for bigness isn’t largeness. It’s to be engulfed by peripheral vision; it questions the self and questions self-consciousness,” said Pop artist James Rosenquist, who passed away March 31 at age 83. Misa Jeffereis looks at his background and legacy, from his midwestern roots to the development of his iconic painting style, which rendered movie stars, automobiles, and food in vivid detail. More

Sound off on Saving the NEA

By Olga Viso April 3, 2017

The elimination of the NEA and other culture-focused agencies would make it harder for the Walker to fulfill its mission to serve as a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences, writes director Olga Viso. More importantly, it would be a step backwards for our great nation, which has long benefited from the federal government’s modest investment in the arts. More

Events: A Medium for Engagement

By Hiroko Ikegami March 28, 2017

In Vienna in 1964, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company performed the first of its Events—a collage of excerpts from existing dances that could be performed without special décor or lighting and didn’t depend on conventional stage exits and entrances. Here, art historian Hiroko Ikegami recounts the first Event to ever be videotaped: #32, performed in 1972 inside the Walker lobby and galleries. More

Walker Cunningham Events will be peformed in the galleries of Merce Cunningham: Common Time March 30–April 9, 2017.

Simplicity of Movement, Directness of Address

By Gwyneth Shanks March 22, 2017

“Hers was a dance practice that sought to reveal itself; her simple never lacked.” With a 1973 letter between dancemaker Trisha Brown and curator Suzanne Weil as her guide, Gwyneth Shanks reflects on the legacy and passing of a choreographer with deep Walker ties. While rigorous, Brown’s work—from Accumulation (1971) to her performance drawings of 2008—“was always marked by a directness of address.” More

Visions of a New New World

By Postcommodity March 6, 2017

Why does the term “native” lose meaning south of the border? And why are some white people calling themselves “nativists”? The indigenous art collective Postcommodity (Raven Chacon, Cristóbal Martínez, and Kade L. Twist) melds poetry and prose in a powerful reflection on native self-determination, ethnic and national identity, and the year 2043—when whites are expected to become a minority in the US. More

Join Postcommodity March 11, 2017 for a free artist talk launching their contribution to Walker’s Artist Op-Eds series.

Art News from Elsewhere More

Via nytimes.com

Passings: Magdalena Abakanowicz (External)

The Polish artist who once described her art as “a search for organic mysteries” has died at 86. Her sculptures “evoked the weight of political oppression, the desperation of the individual and the sufferings of the natural world.”

Via frieze.com

Art as Protest (External)

“How important is art as a form of protest? How effective is it as a conduit of change?” Some 50 artists from over 30 countries sound off as they reflect on “the role of art in responding to conflict.” Responses vary from the poetic and philosophical to the visual.

Via apnews.com

Threat Level: 400 (External)

After a years-long “nightmare” of detainments, searches, and interrogations when traveling, it took Oscar–winning filmmaker Laura Poitras a lawsuit filed under the Freedom of Information Act to discover that she was the subject of a government investigation.


Via artnet.com

Dancing History (External)

“Cunningham’s magnetism has animated much of the boundary-busting, media-blurring experimentation of the recent past,” writes Ben Davis. Common Time reveals the impact of Merce’s unique collaborative model and his legacy as a “radiant, centering artistic force.”

Via dazeddigital.com

Speaking Candidly (External)

“I’m aware of the fragility of life.” Wolfgang Tillmans addresses the impact of HIV on his life and work with unprecedented openness, discussing his partner’s death, his own diagnosis, and finding “vulnerability and radical movement in creativity” and his photography.

Via e-flux.com

The Great Transition (External)

“How can culture—as the location where enduring social values are created collectively—contribute to sensing and comprehending the dangers of our present order?” T.J. Demos analyzes #NoDAPL, Liberate Tate, and the Zad as “creative ecologies of collective resistance.”


Minnesota Art News

Via mnartists.org

The Illusion of Encounter

Kevin Obsatz on his experiences working as a PA on a documentary about the 2004 campaign and, specifically, the show business behind the spectacle of both art and politics. More

Via mnartists.org

An Exquisite Preeminence of the Body

In the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time, artistic disciplines effortlessly traverse conventional boundaries, in much the same ways the influential choreographer did with his many collaborative partners. More

Artspeaks

Commentary

Zigzagging Between Public and Private: Tom Burr on Philip Johnson, Sexuality and Architecture

Tom Burr’s sculpture Zog (a series of setbacks), on view in the exhibition Question the Wall Itself, takes its name and inspiration from a feature of Minneapolis’s… More

Commentary

Ericka Beckman’s You The Better

Visiting a casino in the early 1980s, Ericka Beckman was struck by the “use of human value” on display: white gamblers in elevated seats placing bets on a jai-alai game played by Mexicans in a pit below. In a new interview Beckman… More

Commentary

Faye Driscoll’s Thank You For Coming: Attendance

“I think that when you feel connected and you are not distracted, there is a greater possibility that you will feel joy.” As we present Thank You For Coming: Play, the second part of choreographer/director Faye Driscoll’s trilogy of… More

Walker Channel

Artist Talk

Artist Talk + Op-Ed Launch: Postcommodity

In 2015, the art collective Postcommodity installed 26 ten-foot balloons—giant replicas of the commercial “scare-eye” bird deterrents used by farmers and gardeners—at the US/Mexico border. Extending away from the border fence for… More

Commentary

The Six Sides of Merce Cunningham

Choreographer Merce Cunningham took chances. Over a seven decade career, his explorations reshaped dance into a new kind of art form, deeply influencing visual art, film, and music along the way. Through experimental collaborations… More

Trailer

Merce Cunningham: Common Time

Renowned as both choreographer and dancer, Merce Cunningham (American, 1919–2009) revolutionized dance through his partnerships with leading artists who created costumes, lighting, films, music, and décor and whose independent… More

Quoted

Ongoing Series

Artist Op-Eds

A series of commissioned opinion pieces featuring provocative reactions to the headlines by artists Ron Athey, Ana Tijoux, Dread Scott, and others.

Superscript Reader

Five artists have been commissioned to create a new work that will premiere online. These works respond to the inspirations, inquiry, and influence of key artists in the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection: Derek Jarman, Bruce Conner, and Marcel Broodthaers.

Art (re)Collecting

In celebration of the Walker’s 75th anniversary, Martin Friedman—Walker director from 1961 to 1990—shares his reflections on encountering artists from Duchamp to Cage.

Superscript Reader

An editorial supplement to Superscript: Arts Journalism and Criticism in a Digital Age, an international conference held at the Walker Art Center May 28–30, 2015.

Lowercase P

An election-year series on personal politics and the way artists contribute to the conversation on making a better society.

From the Archives

Susan Rosenberg

Accumulated Vision: Trisha Brown and the Visual Arts

In commemoration of Trisha Brown’s passing on March 18, 2017, we look to art historian Susan Rosenberg’s 2014 reflection of the unique appeal of Brown’s thinking and dance to visual artists.  More

Chance Conversations

In conjunction with the exhibition Merce Cunningham: Common Time (Feb. 8–Jul. 30, 2017), we revisit this 1981 Walker interview between Cunningham and frequent collaborator, John Cage, on their approaches to chance operations. More

By Jack Whitten

Art in Times of Unspeakable Violence

In celebration of Jack Whitten being honored with a National Medal of Arts on September 22, 2016, we revisit the painter’s 2015 Artist Op-Ed, a powerful personal essay on the potential for art in times of violence and injustice. More