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Identity and Institutionalization: Dorit Cypis on Minneapolis in the ’80s
Dorit Cypis & Yesomi Umolu
For Israel-born, California-based artist Dorit Cypis, the Twin Cities was home for much of the 1980s and 1990s, decades when she says the arts became institutionalized, identity politics became entrenched, and her own art more deeply embraced both politics and performance. For our ongoing series Then and Now: The Twin Cities in the 1980s, she shares her memories of a turbulent decade.
A Performance Chronology
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Walker welcomed performing artists like Bill T. Jones, Karen Finley, and Ron Athey, whose work reflected concerns of the day. In conjunction with the exhibition This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, John Killacky, performing arts curator from 1988 to 1996, shares his memories of Walker performances—and politics—of the era.
The Walker Joins Minnesota’s Arts Community in Opposing Marriage Amendment
The Walker proudly joins with 120 cultural organizations in endorsing the Minnesotans United for All Families Campaign, which is working to defeat the marriage amendment on the ballot November 6.
Human and Natural Ecologies
“If we compartmentalize the environmental question, the whole earth burns, so we might as well get everybody in any way that we can,” says Marc Bamuthi Joseph, whose new Walker-commissioned performance examines issues of environmental justice. red, black & GREEN: a blues uses hip-hop, spoken word, and audience participation to expand the discussion about how to define that “environmental question.”
In Bill T. Jones’ Story/Time, the MacArthur “Genius” and Tony-winning choreographer takes inspiration from John Cage’s 1959 work Indeterminacy, sharing a series of poetic reflections, organized by chance and punctuated by dance and music. In the spirit of the performance, we offer a series of short reflections by Jones from a recent interview with performing arts curator Philip Bither.
For five decades, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the Walker have had deep ties, from commissions and residencies to a 2008 performance in a granite quarry and the Walker’s acquisition of the company décor and costumes in 2011. Fittingly, when the company performed for the last time on New Year’s weekend, Walker staff, including its director and performing arts curator, were in attendance.
The six performers onstage in Young Jean Lee’s Untitled Feminist Show could scarcely be more exposed. In a move to “de-objectify the performers,” all actors wear no clothing or makeup. But beyond that, they work without a script, without dialogue. In a recent interview, Lee discusses these choices as well as her strategy of building each show as “a trap” for audiences.
Out There 2012
How does the Walker’s Out There series reflect or reject broader performing arts currents in the Unites States and around the globe? Walker staff writer Julie Caniglia tests the waters surrounding the quartet of theatrical freethinkers appearing at this 24th annual festival of adventurous performance.
Performance is by nature slippery—the work exists only in the moment of its enactment; later, as something remembered or recounted in stories, it’s filtered through someone’s lens. So, if you’re a museum like the Walker that “collects” performing arts, where does this leave you? With plenty of questions and access to top thinkers in the field.