Talking, Dancing, Daily Life: A Conversation on the Work of Yvonne Rainer and Wen Hui
In English, with Chinese Translation
Speakers: Wen Hui, Simon Leung, Emmanuele Phuon
Moderated by Carol Yinghua Lu and Su Wei
Venue: Second Floor, Inside-Out Art Museum
Opening Performance: A Staging of Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A and Chair/Pillow
Venue: Second Floor, Inside-Out Art Museum
Yvonne Rainer and Wen Hui:
Dance Only Exists When It Is Performed
Dates: August 24 – November 24
Artistic Director: Carol Yinghua Lu
Introduction to Yvonne Rainer / Beijing
A project by Simon Leung
Wen Hui: Living Dance
Curated by Su Wei
Conceived by Carol Yinghua Lu, Yvonne Rainer and Wen Hui: Dance Only Exists When It’s Performed surveys the practices of two seminal figures in choreography and contemporary art. Both Yvonne Rainer, based in New York and Wen Hui, based in Beijing, are dancers, choreographers and filmmakers. Primarily trained in dance, both artists have participated in and interacted with creative practitioners in the field of visual art through the courses of their careers.
Yvonne Rainer is a singular artist whose impact on the history of dance, film, and art is profound. Born in San Francisco in 1934, Rainer moved to New York in 1956, and was immersed in downtown art circles when she developed an interest in dance. Pursuing dance in earnest in the late Fifties, Rainer studied at the Martha Graham School; with Merce Cunningham and Anna Halprin; and created her first dance work in a workshop taught by Robert Dunn. As one of the founders of Judson Dance Theater in 1962, Rainer quickly gained recognition as an avant-garde choreographer and a primary theorist of what became known as postmodern dance. Throughout the next decade, Rainer presented rigorous, ground-breaking dance performances, often incorporating quotidian movement, text, and film projection in both theatrical and art venues.
After making several short films in the late Sixties, Rainer turned her attention to film in the Seventies, and became a prominent filmmaker who indexed the political, cultural, and psychological landscapes of her time. Noted for a deep engagement with avant-garde formal strategies, feminist consciousness, and challenges to conventional film narratives, Rainer’s films of this decade are landmarks for their complex (self-) interrogations of a range of topics and issues, including melodrama, feminine subjectivity, the legacy of anarchism, political violence and psychoanalysis; while picturing the fertile, but changing art context of her home in downtown Manhattan.
Presented as a project by artist Simon Leung, Introduction to Yvonne Rainer / Beijing is the first comprehensive look at the first two decades of Yvonne Rainer’s dance and film work from 1961-1980 in China. Designed as a series of events, including dance performances, public conversations, and screenings, and with the proposition that the work of Rainer remains as resonant and relevant today as they did in a bygone era, this project intends to commence a discussion of Rainer’s work within a contemporary Chinese context with hopes of many more engagements to come.
Born in 1960, Wen Hui graduated from Beijing Dance Academy in 1989, and went to New York for further studies in modern dance in the 1990s. In 1994, she established the Living Dance Studio in Beijing with documentary film director Wu Wenguang. The Living Dance Studio was committed to exploring the artistic process in an open arena, working with artists from all media and all disciplines, and creating performances that integrated dance, theatre, and all forms of audio/visual art, with a strong focus on individual memories, histories and social experiences.
In the past two decades, Wen Hui has always been integrating her observations, experiences and analysis of Chinese social and historical realities into over 20 works through recounting the stories of individuals on stage. She works with non-trained dancers in all of her choreographed works and considers their real life experiences important and valuable components of their expressions and performance on stage. Curated by Su Wei, Wen Hui: Living Dance covers all aspects of her practice with countless archival materials, videos, and photographs, forming a chronological narrative. They are presented in a structure consisting of rehearsal, stage, backstage, and workshops, resembling the full process of Wen Hui’s practice.
Both presentations will be joined in the second floor of the museum, which is transformed completely into a stage, where re-enactments of signature works choreographed by Yvonne Rainer in the 1960s and Wen Hui in the 1990s will be presented.
About The Artists
Born in 1934 in San Francisco, Yvonne Rainer is an American avant-garde choreographer, filmmaker and writer who has been profoundly influential in the fields of dance, film, and art. Beginning in the late 1950s, Rainer studied dance with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Anna Halprin, and Robert Dunn, and after being turned down for the annual Young Choreographer Concert in New York in 1962, she, along with Ruth Emerson and Steve Paxton, approached Al Carmines, the Protestant minister of Judson Memorial Church to use it to present performances. Soon after, Judson Dance Theater gathered choreographers, dancers, artists and composers, and staged works that redefined performance and dance. Rainer was noted for an approach to dance that treated the body more as the source and site of a variety of everyday movements than as the purveyor of emotion or drama. Many of the elements she employed in her work—quotidian gestures, the combination of movement with dialogue, etc.—have since became standard features of postmodern dance. Her early canonical choreographic works include: Three Satie Spoons (1961), We Shall Run (1963) and Trio A (1966). Beginning in the late 1960s, Rainer sometimes included filmed sequences in her dances, and in 1972 she began to turn her attention to filmmaking. Her early films, including Lives of Performers (1972), Film about a Woman Who… (1974), Kristina Talking Pictures (1976), and Journeys from Berlin/1971 (1980), juxtaposed fiction and reality in addressing the intersection of art, private life, and feminine subjectivity within social and political contexts. Continuing with feature-filmmaking until 1996, Rainer returned to dance and choreography in 2000 and has since presented a substantial body of new dance works in the 21st Century. Recent museum exhibitions on the work of Rainer include: Judson Dance Theatre: The Work is Never Done (MoMA, 2018), and Yvonne Rainer: Space, Body, Language (Museum Ludwig, 2012).
A choreographer, dancer, Wen Hui also makes documentary films and installations. She is one of the pioneers of Chinese contemporary dance theatre. She graduated from Beijing Dance Academy in 1989 with a degree in Choreography. In 1994, she studied modern dance in New York. From 1997 to 1998, she received a scholarship from Asian Cultural Council to further her study of modern dance and theatre making in New York. From 1999 to 2000, Wen Hui joined the famous American contemporary choreographer Ralph Lemon’s dance company, and performed the "Geography Trilogy: Tree" at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival in New York and around the United States.
In 1994, she founded Living Dance Studio with friends in Beijing. In 2005, Wen Hui and Wu Wenguang established Caochangdi Workstation and co-curated the “Crossing” International Dance Festival in Beijing. In the same year, they initiated European Artists Exchange Project and Young Choreographers Project. In 2015, Wen Hui organized and participated in the “ReActor” project at Power Station of Art in Shanghai.
For twenty-five years, Wen Hui has been using theatre as a means of social intervention. Since 2008, she began to research on the body as a form of personal social documentation and to experiment how bodily memory catalyzes collision between history and reality. Wen Hui’s work has received international attention. She and the Living Dance Studio have been invited to the most probing stages and festivals internationally. In 2009, French magazine Télescope describes Wen Hui as “a pioneer of dance…a miracle.” In 2015, she participated in the Chinese Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. Her work Report on Body won the “ZKB Patronage Prize” in Zürcher Theater Spektakel (2004).
About The Curators
Carol Yinghua Lu is an art critic and curator. She is currently PhD scholar, the University of Melbourne and is director of the Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum. She is a contributing editor at Frieze. Lu was on the jury for the Golden Lion Award at the 2011 Venice Biennale and on the jury for the Filipino National Pavilion of 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. She was the co-artistic director of the 2012 Gwangju Biennale and co-curator of the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale in 2012. From 2012 to 2015, she was the artistic director and chief curator of OCAT Shenzhen. She was the first visiting fellow in the Asia-Pacific Fellowship program at the Tate Research Centre in 2013. She is one of the first four ARIAH (Association of Research Institute in Art History) East Asia Fellows 2017 at Bard Graduate Center.
Simon Leung was born in Hong Kong and lives in New York and Los Angeles. He is Professor and Chair of Graduate Studies in the Department of Art at the University of California, Irvine. His work has been presented at the Gwangju Biennale (2018), the Venice Biennale (2003), the Guangzhou Triennial (2008), the Generali Foundation (Vienna), Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art (Warsaw), NGBK (Berlin), Sala Mendoza (Caracas), 1a Space (Hong Kong), the Whitney Biennial (1993), the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), and the Hammer Museum. Leung’s projects include an opera set in Griffith Park; a live/video performance addressing AIDS in the figure of the glory hole; a trilogy on “the residual space of the Vietnam War”; an extended proposal of Duchamp’s oeuvre as a discourse in ethics; a meditation on the site/non-site dialectic by way of Edgar Allan Poe; context-specific works centering on the squatting body; “art workers’ theater” addressing the intersection of art and labor; and a twenty-plus year collaboration with the late Warren Niesuchowski.
Su Wei is a curator and art critic based in Beijing. He is the Senior Curator of Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum. He participated in the 2012 Curatorial Intensive at Independent Curators International (ICI) in New York. In 2014, he was awarded first place at the first International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC). His curatorial projects include: 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale (OCAT Shenzhen, 2012) No References. A Revisit of Hong Kong Media and Video Art from 1985 (Videotage HK, 2016, Permanent Abstraction: Epiphanies of a Modern Form in Escaped Totalities (Red Brick Museum Beijing, 2016), Crescent: Retrospectives of Zhao Wenliang and Yang Yushu (Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum,2017), The Lonely Spirit (Beijing Inside-Out Art Museum,2018) etc. In 2015, he participated in the symposium Dislocations: Remapping Art Histories at Tate Modern, London. His recent work focuses on thick-description of China’s contemporary art history, excavating its legitimate origins and rupturing nature.