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“Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done” exhibition at MoMA, NYC

By admin - September 15, 2018

Lucinda-Childs-Judson-Dance-Theater-exhibition-MoMA-NY

Until February 3, 2019, The Museum of Modern Art – MoMA  in New York presents “Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done“, a major exhibition that looks anew at the formative moment in the1960s when a group of choreographers, visual artists, composers, and filmmakers made use of a local church to present groundbreaking cross-disciplinary performances.

Cover image: Peter Moore’s photograph of Lucinda Childs in Pastime, 1963. Performed in Surplus Dance Theater: Program Exchange, New York, March 2, 1964. © Barbara Moore/Licensed by VAGA at ARS, NY. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York


Featuring celebrated dance works by Judson artists, The Work Is Never Done includes a gallery exhibition, a print publication, and an ambitious performance program in the Museum’s
Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium. On view from September 16, 2018, through
February 3, 2019, the exhibition highlights the group’s ethos of collaboration and the range of its participants through live performance and some 300 objects including films, photographic
documentation, sculptural objects, scores, music, and archival material. Judson Dance
Theater: The Work Is Never Done is organized by Ana Janevski, Curator, and Thomas J. Lax,
Associate Curator, with Martha Joseph, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Media and
Performance Art.

Judson-Dance-Theater-exhibition-MoMA-NY-2019

Installation view of Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photo: Peter Butler

Taking its name from the Judson Memorial Church, a socially engaged Protestant congregation in New York’s Greenwich Village, Judson Dance Theater was organized in 1962 as a series of open workshops from which its participants developed performances. Redefining the kinds of movement that could count as dance, the Judson artists would go on to profoundly shape all fields of art in the second half of the 20th century.

Together, these artists—including Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Philip Corner, Bill Dixon, Judith Dunn, David Gordon, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Fred Herko, Robert Morris, Steve Paxton, Rudy Perez, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, Carolee Schneemann, and Elaine Summers, among others—challenged traditional understandings of choreography. They employed
unconventional composition methods to strip dance of its theatrical conventions,
incorporating “ordinary” and more spontaneous movements into their work, along with
games, simple tasks, and social dances.

“This exhibition emphasizes the cross-disciplinary activities and experimental spirit of Judson
Dance Theater and New York’s Downtown scene in the 1960s,” said Ana Janevski. “That spirit
is especially resonant today, as the Museum has made a demonstrated effort to work cross-departmentally and to highlight the central role played by dance and performance in the visual
arts throughout the 20th century.”

Judson-Dance-Theater-exhibition-MoMA-NY-2019

Judson-Dance-Theater-exhibition-MoMA-NY-2019

Installation views of Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photos: Peter Butler

Titled after a phrase used by choreographer Steve Paxton, The Work Is Never Done reflects
both the Judson group’s spirit of experimentation and the ongoing importance of their work
today. The exhibition attempts to account for the way the history of live work is mediated by
the passage of time through retrospection, archival material, and oral history, including
excerpts from interviews with Al Carmines, Steve Paxton, and Carolee Schneemann from the
Bennington College Judson Project (1980–82). “Through our exhibitions, acquisitions, and
live programs, the Department of Media and Performance Art is committed to considering
how history is felt, sensed, and perceived, so as to place the past within its larger social
context both then and now,” said Thomas J. Lax. The Work Is Never Done is organized into five
galleries: the performance program in the Marron Atrium; 3 Dances: What Is a Dance?;
Workshops; Downtown: Sites of Collaboration; and Sanctuary: Judson Dance Theater.

Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done
September 16, 2018 – February 3, 2019
The Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Second-floor Collection Galleries and The Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium

Judson-Dance-Theater-exhibition-MoMA-NY-2019

Installation view of Judson Dance Theater: The Work Is Never Done, © 2018 The Museum of Modern Art. Photos: Peter Butler


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