Yvonne Rainer and Wen Hui: Dance Only Exists When It Is Performed
Dates: August 24 – November 24
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.