Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism.
Changes: Notes on Choreography, a book written by legendary choreographer Merce Cunningham in 1968 and recently reissued by The Song Cave on the occasion of what would be his centennial, offers a compelling peek into the inner workings of an artist’s mind. More of an art- or archival collection than a typical book, Changes gathers sketches, notes, photographs, programs, and all other manner of ephemera in a creative package that often takes some maneuvering to read in the traditional sense. Printed text is frequently overlaid on top of handwritten notes or images; sometimes one must turn the book upside down to read a full sentence.
This format may sound like a recipe for a daunting reading experience, especially for those who aren’t familiar with the choreographer’s long career in modern dance, which included frequent experiments with chance and avant-garde clashes between sound and motion. While Changes can feel abstruse, it is ultimately a fascinating look at the creative process behind the most fleeting of art forms. For every dance move that might appear fluid and unselfconscious in one of the book’s many photographs or onscreen (Cunningham’s choreography is the subject of an upcoming 3D documentary), there’s a note, scrawled in messy handwriting and crudely illustrated with a stick figure. It’s hard to tell what each individual note means, but taken as a whole they constitute a layered physical artifact of the often-unseen labor that goes into choreography.
Changes is peppered with sly observations: “The audience was puzzled,” Cunningham writes of one dance. “There’s something interesting in it. I don’t know yet,” he writes of another. There’s a stream-of-consciousness quality to this collage-like book, and Cunningham’s observations help anchor us in pages otherwise filled with abstract material. Changes will likely leave the reader wanting to see Cunningham’s work performed onstage. Its scattered pages are indicative of a mind that overflowed with ideas, expressed in intricately complex systems. It may not be an easy read, but as Cunningham writes, “Clarity is the lowest form of poetry.”
The art world has paid attention to other artists from the same era, but we have not done the same with Sonia Gechtoff, and it is time that we did.
Wifredo Lam developed a style that dances between figuration and abstraction, but the selected compositions at Pace gallery tend to repeat.
These multimedia works debuting on Voice include a “Death Mechanism” and allow fans to collect the artist’s origin story, told specifically for the metaverse.
These four artists dig into the cultural and geologic history of the enclave of Staten Island to produce work that resonates with the core of bell hooks’s commendation to love.
As acceptance of digital art grows, there is also a need to validate quality and recognize artists who explore radical ideas and achieve creative breakthroughs.
On December 13, learn about the Sam Fox School’s graduate programs in Visual Art and Illustration & Visual Culture, as well as the university’s competitive financial aid packages.
Anthology Film Archives’ complete retrospective of the influential Canadian experimental filmmaker includes many exceptionally rare titles.
Breuer’s Bohemia is centered around the life and work of Marcel Breuer, but touches upon an entire cohort of Modernist influencers.
Located in a historic industrial manufacturing facility in Utica, New York, this sculpture-centric program is accepting applications through January 15, 2022.
A conversation with Richard Kraft about his artist book in which he created penalty flags for nearly 10,000 of Trump’s misdeeds
The guidelines are specifically meant to combat a form of online harassment known as doxing.
Your list of must-see, fun, insightful, and very New York art events this month.