How to choreograph silence. That was the challenge issued by artist Tacita Dean to the great American choreographer Merce Cunningham, who revolutionized modern dance. Through January 3, 2010, the Musée dart contemporain de Montréal
presents the exhibition Tacita Dean.
In 2007, British artist Tacita Dean invited Cunningham to choreograph John Cages composition 433. That piecea 4-minute, 33-second silence performed in three movementswas highly influential in twentieth-century music and very emotional for the choreographer: Cage, who died in 1992, was his long-time collaborator and life partner. Cunningham, who was 88 at the time and in a wheelchair, accepted the challenge. On the afternoon of April 28, 2007, in the New York studios of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Dean filmed a total of six takes. Seated on a chair, before a wall of rehearsal-room mirrors, Cunningham performed silence by remaining immobile, adjusting his pose slightly between each of the movements in response to a signal from Trevor Carlson, the companys director.
The show consists of an installation of six projections on screens arranged around the exhibition space, entitled Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cages composition 433 with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007. Each projection corresponds to one of the six performances presented by Cunningham and filmed by Dean. With 433, Cage set out to compose a piece made of unbroken silence. In Stillness, Cunningham transposes this silence into immobility and Dean uses a still camera, shooting each performance from a different angle. The screens dimensions are calibrated so that the choreographer, whether seen in close-up or long shot, is life-size. Here, music, dance and film simultaneously share a common space-time with the visitor.
Born in 1965, in Canterbury, England, Tacita Dean explores various media, including drawing, photography and sound, but made her name internationally with her films documenting the passage of time. She has taken part in many solo and group exhibitions since 1992, at Dia:Beacon (2008), Solomon Guggenheim Museum, New York (2007), Schaulager, Munchenstein/Basel, Switzerland (2006), National Gallery of Contemporary Art, Oslo, Norway (2006), Musée dArt moderne de la Ville de Paris (2003) and Tate Britain (2001), among others. Closer to us here, she participated in the 2000 Biennale de Montréal. She has won the Kurt Schwitters Prize (Germany, 2009) and the Hugo Boss Prize (United States, 2006), and was nominated for the Millennium Prize awarded by the National Gallery of Canada in 2001 and for the 1998 Turner Prize. Tacita Dean lives and works in Berlin.
The presentation at the Musée dart contemporain is the artists first solo exhibition in Canada.