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Theatricality—Raimundas Malašauskas IToP

Raimundas Malašauskas, a curator who has co-written an opera libretto,

produced a television show, and served as an agent for dOCUMENTA
(13), is a co-curator of the 2016 Liverpool Biennial.

Despite the ongoing insurrection against theatrical representation,

there are more elements of theater in the language of modern and
contemporary art than either of the disciplines bargained for. General
optics and space metaphors with philosophical and political meanings
abound (for example, perspective and depth), while the use of terms
like staging, spotlight, and scene has not been restricted to illusion but
rather is applied to all kinds of dramaturgy of the surface, regardless of
whether it came through minimalism, conceptualism, or installation art.
Needless to say, an attempt to map the genealogies and impact of these
theatrical elements would be comparable to talking about the role of
climate change in weather dynamics. (Well, actually it might not be the
most fruitless discussion.)
Some areas of more complex public organization—like exhibition
making—employ certain theatrical mechanics, namely space-time
management involving multiple actors (artworks, conditions, and sites).
The curating of exhibitions now uses the language of both logistics

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Theatricality—Raimundas Malašauskas IToP

management and choreography. A recent publication by Mathieu

Copeland titled Chorégraphier l’exposition (Choreographing exhibitions)
brings the latter into full force.1 Artists may write their own scripts
and perform them in a pastoral setting with friends; Jessica Warboys,
for example, staged several theatrical soirées in parks and forests.
Theatrical language can appear in more art-historical frameworks too:
curators at the Contemporary Art Centre Vilnius became so inspired by
the theatrical machine that they dedicated an entire exhibition to it.2
Meanwhile theatricality can manifest itself as a stage solo or duo
act in which the body of the artist is present and attention is skillfully
mastered. Perhaps commanding attention is one of the key forces of
theater? Think of Michael Portnoy and Ieva Misevičiūtė, Liz Magic Laser,
Sharon Hayes, and so many more.
It is worth noting that an exhibition, as an organization or a
certain ecosystem, tends to incorporate its own parameters as one of
the elements of the display; it is not—or is no longer—just a frame that
defines the field of the play and remains invisible itself. Theatricality
occurs either through the art projects that constitute the exhibition
(its organizational framework) or through other sets of circumstances,
neither of which is considered fixed. Driven by this logic of individual
urgencies and collective intelligence, artworks, artists, curators, ideas,
sites, schedules, and sponsors may cohabit a critical poetic temporary
universe that has much more in common with the museum than with
theater. Yet it draws on the logistics of both. On the surface it may look
like an intellectual tableau vivant or a fashion shoot—that is, a seamless
merger of white cube, performance, and theater mechanics—yet these
worlds face their deepest disparity at the level of economics. While the
art world economy is a speculation-based financial business, theater
runs on the regularity of a paycheck enabled by state support or by
ticket sales.
Combined with the performative turn of the art world in
its journey with the current information economy, these material
conditions have produced interesting phenomena. For instance, one
can boldly speculate that about as many actors and actresses have
been employed by art museums, fairs, and galleries in the last ten
years as in the prior ten decades. The artist duo Goldin+Senneby not
only employed actors but also staged their exhibitions with the help
of a professional set designer. Despite appearances, this development
does not constitute a two-way movement of labor force: hardly any

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Theatricality—Raimundas Malašauskas IToP

contemporary artists have landed in the theater. (David Levine is an

exception who oscillates between the two fields.)
I have not yet mentioned the important figure of the spectator.
His or her presence is acknowledged very differently in theater than in
the art world. It is hard to imagine a theatrical play running on the stage
if the audience is not there, while it is quite common to visit exhibitions
and not meet anyone else. Yet suddenly the quest for a dynamic and not
an abstract spectator has become not just the goal but the condition
of art-world performance. This transference of the awareness of
the spectator from theater to the art world has generated a genre of
performance in which the spectator symbolically ends up onstage: think
of Tino Sehgal’s entire oeuvre.
I want to mention one last interesting thing about theatrical
representation and illusion. I remember when I was younger how
mysterious and attractive elements of stage design depicting castles
and trains looked from the perspective of the audience. I used to be
afraid that all that allure would evaporate if I got onstage and saw them
close-up. The effect was the opposite, however: those trains and castles
became even more interesting when I stepped onto the stage.

1 Mathieu Copeland, Chorégraphier l’exposition (Dijon, France:

Presses du Réel, 2013).
2 “Illusionists: On Stage Design and Contemporary Art,” curated
by Julija Fomina and Virginija Januškevičiūtė, Contemporary Art
Centre, Vilnius, September 6–October 16, 2013.

© 2016
Performativity—Judith Butler IToP

Judith Butler, the author of Gender Trouble (1990) and many other
books, is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative
Literature and the Program of Critical Theory at the University of
California, Berkeley.

Since the early ’90s, I have found myself embroiled in discussions about
the possibilities and perils of this keyword—“performativity.” Why
was I there? And why am I still returning to the topic now? I suppose
it is because at that earlier point in time I made the suggestion that
gender might be understood as performative, and that led to a rather
long discussion with many people in different parts of the world on
questions such as, “What is the difference between performance and
performativity?” and “Is performativity a way of talking about social
construction?” and “Are all bodies or, rather, is everything about the
body constructed, and does that mean that bodies lack materiality?”
If gender is performative, and performativity is one way of specifying
social construction, does that mean that “we choose our genders” or
that “we are determined by social and cultural norms”?
It is not that such questions came to me in dreams or woke me
from my sleep, but they did continue to arrive at my door, knocking.

© 2016
Performativity—Judith Butler IToP

That knock often took the form of invitations to speak, which, once
accepted, compelled the body to get on a plane, watch out for issues of
adequate hydration, sleep in strange hotels, and arrive in person, as a
body, in order to vocalize a response of one kind or another. What was
the relation between those repeated lectures on performativity and the
concept—or practice—that I was trying to elaborate?
It seemed at first that I was speaking within literary theory,
then with an emerging queer theory, but of course I was also in
conversation with many other scholars and artists working on essays,
books, and compelling art projects thinking about performance in
time and space. One position within that increasingly productive field
argues that performance emerges from shared social worlds, that no
matter how individual and fleeting any given performance might be, it
still relies upon, and reproduces, a set of social relations, practices, and
institutions that turn out to be part of the very performance itself. In
a way, “social work,” the name of Shannon Jackson’s book, names as
well at least two dimensions of performance condition and exceeds its
status as a punctual act. Different ways of working together constitute
the social condition, even the very stuff, of performance itself; in
turn, performance brings with it the chance to re-create community
through various preparatory collaborations among objects, others, and
technologies. Even the solo, the monologue, or the highly individuated
verbal performance (which is what most academic lectures tend to be)
requires a support team, a space, a time, a schedule, a set of working
and enabling technologies, a slew of objects, networks, and temporally
organized processes that do not explicitly appear in the distinct set
of moments when the body of the performer becomes seen, heard,
or communicated. We rightly think of all the hidden labor, largely
unpaid or underpaid, that makes the punctual act of utterance or
action possible. But the “action” is better described as a choreography
of objects, networks, and processes that cross the human and the
From such a perspective, we are compelled to think anew about
some rather fundamental theoretical questions. First, are the human
and object worlds that together make a performance possible also what
make up the performance, such that there is a nonhuman dimension to
all performance? That is, is performance always engaging the nonhuman
conditions and components of our own action? Are such worlds carried
and conveyed, made or unmade, in the performances that we do and are,

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Performativity—Judith Butler IToP

the ones we see and hear or register in some other way, those that lay
claim to our responsiveness and, by acting on us, tacitly restructure how
we sense the world at all? Even at this moment when I write (or speak),
I rely on the work of various scholars and artists to help me think
about how this happens, and this dependency, if you will, structures
this performance; their work is in my work, and their thought is in my
thought, sometimes in ways that preclude the possibility of an explicit
The body who appears in a lecture space relies on the support
that the space provides, and so relies on the support that the space
receives. These modes of interdependency are both presupposed and
deflected as the individual speaker speaks. We become aware of it, of
course, when microphones suddenly break down or lights dim when
they are not supposed to. Even though we groan at such moments, they
show us how very lucky we are, we humans who transpose and amplify
ourselves by nonhuman means. We are trying to move and speak and
perform in a world that is supported (the sense of the world depends
on supports, and the world, in turn, becomes our support). There
are bodies behind and to the side of this body, and they are working
together, even when that plurality sometimes collapses into the figure of
the one, even when no one else shows up on stage when I do.
I wanted to say something like that when I spoke about gender
as performative or, at least, I came to see things that way in the course
of responding to all those questions and keeping new company. No one
really performs a gender alone, no matter how beautifully idiosyncratic
the performance might be. That does not mean that everyone is
performing it in the same way—not at all. But even under conditions of
extreme and punitive isolation, the kind that follows from performing
gender in ways that are considered non-normative in highly hostile
spaces, one suffers alone, but there is always the shadow of company, of
others who would be treated the same way were they present. One finds
oneself inside a category not of one’s own making. Of course, it is this
particular body who suffers and enjoys, and no other, but that suffering
and enjoyment is already a relational matter—gender is performed for
a someone, even if that someone does not yet exist; and sexuality is
lived in relation to a world of others, whether it is reclusive, auto-erotic,
externalized, or exposed. When someone suffers as a consequence of
having broken with a cultural norm, or for having shown how the norm
can or must be broken or bent, that person has entered into a cultural

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Performativity—Judith Butler IToP

and political struggle whether or not one meant to, whether or not there
are proximate signs of others in solidarity. An isolated act can, in fact,
be a radical petition for solidarity, as if to say, “Where are those of you
who will support me now?” Gender is not gender if it does not imply
the social dimension of a bodily being, the way that the body refers to
a broader world and exceeds the one who bears or does it, even as that
one remains in some sense singular.
But the same goes for performanceZand perhaps this is part of
the link between them. Performance is always an action or event that
involves a number of people, objects, networks, and institutions, even
when performance takes place without a stage and in the briefest of
moments, gathered up and dispersed in evanescence. For it is for and
with someone or some set of nonhuman things and movements, always
relying on a ground or background, or social world—a fleeting act for a
passing crowd—that performance comes forth as “performance” at all.
Even when infrastructure fails, something or someone takes up some
space, pointing to that loss. So performance is not the self-constituting
act of a subject who is grounded nowhere, acting alone. If performance
brings a subject into being, it does so only in terms of the social and
material coordinates and relations that make it possible or that form
its scene of intervention. The boundaries of the body that establish
singularity are precisely the means by which sociality comes into being.
For every question of support and tactility depends on a body that is,
from the start, given over to the material and social conditions of its
own persistence, bound up with that human and nonhuman support
without which . . . nothing.

© 2016
Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

Yvonne Rainer (born 1934, San Francisco) is a dancer, choreographer,

and filmmaker whose deeply political and feminist work has challenged
ideological and formal conventions for more than five decades. A founding
member of the Judson Dance Theater and the improvisation group Grand
Union, Rainer was a key figure of 1960s and ’70s minimalist and
postmodern dance, incorporating everyday movements and sounds and
rejecting traditional narratives in favor of tasks, patterns, and game-
based structures. In the mid-’70s she began making experimental films,
returning to choreography only in 2000. Her most recent performance,
The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there’s nothing
left to move?, was commissioned by Performa and the Getty Research
Institute (which maintains her archive) and premiered at the Museum of
Modern Art, New York.

With what kinds of artists or art professionals are you most comfortable
conversing? On the other hand, whose language is most unfamiliar or
disabling to you?

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

The language of drama critics and playwrights always reminds me of
what Anthony Hopkins supposedly said to a theater actor: “Still yelling
at night?” I used to attend a lot of plays, but the naturalistic kind of
theater that directors engage with no longer interests me. When I see
well-meaning and -crafted naturalistic performances in movies I can
take it—I can lose myself and identify with the characters—but not in
theater. I was raised with Beckett and Ionesco and to a certain extent
Brecht, all of whom intentionally challenged the audience’s “suspension
of disbelief.” Perhaps it is a certain literal-mindedness that I inherited
from these theater rebels, compounded by Minimalism in the visual
arts, that fueled my resistance to psychologically infused dialogue and
coherent narrative in theater. I am more comfortable with the language
of dance, its materiality and immediacy. As for film language, the
techniques of conventional film narrative already immerse the viewer in
the diegesis, dispensing with any effort at “suspension.”

Let’s talk for a moment specifically about language in terms of words—
how meanings might drift or shift or have different values when
transported from one context to another. Even the word performance
means something different to people working in different fields.

Sure, both the words performance and language mean different things
in theater and in dance. I should point out that I use a lot of language
these days. It is a distantiation device. I don’t own what I say; I am
reading other people’s words, and I give them to my dancers. It’s a
parallel strategy to the dance moves, and it’s also quite disconnected.

From where are you sourcing your language?

Everywhere, from philosophy to literary criticism to whatever I’m
reading, from bad jokes to the wall inscriptions in the Islamic wing of
the Metropolitan Museum. I’m all over the place.

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

Are there any realms of language from which you wouldn’t borrow?

Naturalistic dialogue.

Understood. As for interdisciplinary literacy, what does it mean for an
artist to be “literate” in the disciplines he/she engages? What are the
possible benefits of being “illiterate” within certain disciplines?

Dance in museums brings up some of these issues today. Too many art
historians do not know their dance history. When I switched from dance
to film, in 1972, I already had literacy in film. I was following the New
American Cinema and European cinema in the 1950s and ’60s. I was
going to foreign films from the time I was a young child.

When entering that realm, then, you did not feel handicapped—for
better or worse?

Well, I certainly was handicapped technically, and even after making
seven films, I would say I’m a techno dummy of the camera and lighting.
I depended on people with that knowledge, though, of course, there was
an ongoing conversation about what I wanted, what I imagined, and it
was the job of the people I worked with to realize what came out of my
head. I’ve always admired my filmmaker peers who do their own camera
work. Eventually, I became an expert in editing on the Steenbeck. I
learned that as I went along.

Was there ever a time when your work either suffered or benefited
from a miscommunication, when the assumption of your intent was
misconstrued as a result of moving from one artistic context to another?

In the 1960s a dance critic wrote that “someday there will be a real

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

murder in one of Yvonne Rainer’s dances.” When I made the transition

to film, some filmmakers complained that I had “no visual sense.”
Others said my films had “no narrative drive.” It’s odd how such barbs
stick while the many favorable and sympathetic observations fade.

Did those criticisms impact the way you thought about your work?

No, it’s all part of a day’s work. You know, some like what you do and
some don’t. As for visual sense, there was something about filmmaking
that I had a very acute visual sense for, and that was framing the way
the film framed. That’s a language all by itself. And narrative drive? I
deliberately made disjunctive narratives. That was what I was interested
in. People who didn’t see this in terms of a coherent narrative, they were
out of luck. It really had to do with the division between traditional
and experimental narrative. I never expected what I did to attract a big
audience. I wasn’t even after the kind of audience that goes to the art
cinema, let alone the Multiplex.

What words do you find most resonant in the contemporary art and
performance world? What words most confuse or annoy you?

In the annoyance department is iteration. All of a sudden everyone’s
using it, and all it means is learning through repetition, another version
of something. It seems pretentious to me. Another annoyance is the
word immersion. It refers to a relation to the audience that I have no
interest in whatsoever, and that is audience participation. I expect the
audience to stay in their seats. When you go to the circus for the high-
wire act and the trapeze, they ask you to be very quiet and attentive and
not make noise. I ask for that kind of concentration in front of my work.
I expect it. It’s not supposed to be an immersive experience.
As for the language that I find most resonant: in dealing with
my work, I try to be purely descriptive and avoid spiritual, mystical, or
socially progressive interpretations. Sometimes, however, as when one
is applying for money, one must make claims for a “higher” purpose.

© 2016
Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

What you were saying about audience participation ties back, in some
respects, to the concept of distantiation you were talking about earlier.

In my later filmmaking, I used actors who portrayed characters, but I
used them to absorb and engage the audience only to then disrupt their
absorption. An example: the audience is watching a sequence with a
voiceover, and all of a sudden the voiceover becomes an intertitle that
they have to read. I was pulling them in but ultimately pushing them

You have great facility in a number of mediums. How do you think
about the terms interdisciplinary or intermedial within the context of
performance—do they have a specific meaning and value for you?

I’m not sure how broadly you’re defining interdisciplinary. I made
a version of Rite of Spring where in the middle of it I had a group of
fifty people storm the stage in protest and then leave. I also had signs
descend from the rafters with various words on them referring to the
history of the dance. That was very elaborate; I worked with a set
designer, and it was in a theater, on a proscenium stage.

Would it be safe to say that those were theatrical engagements?

Theatrical, yes. But I no longer regard my work, at least in its current
phase, as interdisciplinary. It contains movement derived from various
sources, the use of trained dancers, live readings or recitations, and
occasionally props, but none of that would justify its characterization as
interdisciplinary or intermedial. I guess what I’m doing now is simpler
and more intimate; it’s complicated by the use of the texts, but that’s as
far as it goes.

Is the move away from using theatrical conventions prompted by either

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

a comfort or discomfort with engaging this other discipline?

No, it was practical. When you tour, especially in Europe, you don’t
want to lug a lot of stuff around. I don’t have that kind of money or
economic support. So, the simpler the better, you know? We carry
what we need on our backs. When Rauschenberg was set designer for
Cunningham, they’d go into a theater and into the wardrobe or prop
department and gather up whatever they found there.

Does the ability to draw readily upon various disciplines better facilitate
the delivery of content and ideas for you? Does it allow for greater play
or freedom in the creation of your work? Are certain kinds of content or
ideas more easily explored in certain mediums?

I turned to film in 1972 because at the time film seemed more
appropriate for dealing with the specifics of political and social issues. I
didn’t make metaphorical or socially referential movement. If the dances
could be called “political,” such a term was relevant within what seemed
to me to be the narrow confines of dance history. Film was the medium
that could accommodate my evolving feminism and a farther-ranging

Why was that? Was it the discourse around film or actually the nature
of the medium?

It was the nature of film itself. It could accommodate language as
intertitle, as subtitle, as synched sound, as voiceover, and verbal
language could be integrated with visual language. I didn’t feel I
could do that in dance. I didn’t make a narrative, metaphorical kind of
movement. I didn’t tell stories with the body. Film offered a much wider
range of possibilities for content—in addition to the traditional modes
of acting and characterization. Coming back to dance later, I realized
that verbal language could now carry the weight of social commentary
independent of the dance movement I made. The two parallel

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

trajectories could coexist.

Were you enabled to bring language into dance because dance had
changed, or because the audience’s expectations were different from
those of the early 1970s?

No, it has nothing to do with audience expectations. I just have
two totally different interests. I’ve always been interested in the
juxtaposition of things that don’t match. And I make this demand
on the audience that they follow the physical aspect of the piece, the
movement, and at the same time they can listen to material that the
movement does not relate to. It’s all in this tradition, a postmodern
tradition, of radical juxtaposition, to use Susan Sontag’s term.

Are certain contexts more enabling for you?

That’s hard to say. The most appreciative audiences for my
choreography come from visual art, academia, dance, poetry, probably
not film as much. The biggest hurdles for choreographers today—and
that includes me at age eighty—have to do with space and time and
the availability of dancers for daily work sessions. Unless you have
institutionalized yourself with a stable “company,” board of trustees,
fundraiser, manager, et cetera, the opportunities for performing are few
and far between. In my youth, the “enabling context” for making work
was the gymnasium of Judson Church, where we could fool around
on a regular basis (free of charge!) and not present formal shows until
we were ready. There are all too few opportunities for this kind of
communality today, for obvious reasons.

When is your work constrained by the frame of “dance” or “the
museum,” and when is it enabled by those frames?

The people who come to see my work know what to expect. I don’t

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

think about framing my work for a specific audience, let’s put it that
way. I don’t think I’ve ever felt constrained by anticipating a particular
audience. I mean, sometimes it’s gotten me into trouble. In my early
days, when I was beginning to make dances, I had the support of my
peers. I think I lucked out. I came at a certain time when New York was
boiling with all kinds of rebellion. We expected to make waves and yes,
I can remember a particular performance I shared with Steve Paxton and
David Gordon and people walked out. At Judson Church, to get out you
had to be brave because you had to walk across the performing area. So,
yes, there were occasions like that—that particular one was a downer.
The response in terms of reviews was always invigorating, both the ups
and the downs, the negative and the positive. I would say that neither
the audience nor the critical response affected me in terms of what I
wanted to do. I was affected more by what I saw in the field, what my
contemporaries were doing, what was happening in my immediate
As for the frame of the museum, I think of the constraints
as being related to a lack of respect for artists, their needs, and their
contributions. Museums, like the Whitney and MoMA, are finally
building theatrical spaces into their architectural expansions. If they
plan to show dance, they know that things have got to change. Sprung
floors? Dressing rooms and showers? Far be it for us modest, grateful
dancers to bite the hand that feeds us, however insubstantially. I never
thought about these things when I danced at the Whitney in the early
1970s. My frustrations must be age-related.
I had a meeting today with several curators at MoMA, during
which we discussed my upcoming series of performances. On leaving
the office and walking down a corridor I caught sight of a photo of Steve
Paxton performing in the MoMA garden in the late 1960s or early ’70s.
There he was all askew while doing a bravura headstand. Two items
caught my attention. One, his head was making contact with the stone
surface of the outdoor space, and two, he was not identified in the
caption beside the photo.

You work collaboratively in some of your performance work. How do
you like to name your role in a collaboration?

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

I would rather not call interacting with and being influenced by my
dancers “collaboration.” Or working with a set or costume designer.
Grand Union was a collaboration, the group that came out of one of
my last dances in the early 1960s, Continuous Project—Altered Daily. It
evolved into a situation where everyone brought in their own materials
and the resultant performance was, yes, a collaborative event. We didn’t
rehearse or work together beforehand, we just met at a certain time and
place and related to each other, interacted in the performance. That is, I
think, the extent of my collaboration. What I do now, I’m certainly the
final authority, even when I ask the dancers to contribute. My current
dance, The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there’s nothing left to
move, has an indeterminate structure; the dancers have the option to
initiate and perform material at their discretion throughout the evening.
Does that constitute collaboration? For egotistical reasons I prefer to say
flatly that I don’t collaborate.

Can you talk about the role of scores in your practice?

I’ve made all kinds of scores, either lists of materials or rules about how
they were to be used, and a few graphic scores. I know Lucinda Childs’s
graphic scores are the basis of her work, and I’ve made a few of those,
especially in large group pieces, indicating floor patterns and sequence.

Do you see these scores as providing a means of working out the
dances, or are they for use later in the reconstruction of the work?

The score in some cases was made before rehearsals, so it was
something to be borrowed, something meant to produce the dance.
There are also all these essays I wrote after making the dances, which
would help me clarify what they’re about.

What would be the role of the score in a reperformance or

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

It’s essential. That’s how some of my dances have survived. In some
cases, the scores are indecipherable; in other cases, they will produce
the dance accurately.

Do you have a position on the reconstruction of your work?

I am so undecided about such matters that maybe the best way to
answer the question is to refer to what, for better or worse, is still
perceived as my “signature” dance, Trio A. Trio A is transmitted by five
dancers authorized by me to teach it. I forbid Trio A to be learned from
the video documentation of my own (flawed) execution of it from 1978.
No one can teach or perform it without my permission. Those who
learn it from the authorized transmitters must sign waivers. As for my
evening-length dances, very little survives from 1960 to 1975: the solos
Three Satie Spoons, Three Seascapes, and Talking Solos and group works We
Shall Run, Diagonal, and Chair-Pillow. These have been performed by
members of my current group and videotaped on various occasions.
Since 2000, when I returned to dance, I have tried to have everything I
do videotaped.

Is the videotape purely documentation?

Yes, in most cases. But regarding Trio A, there was one camera, and the
floor patterns are very specific, and you cannot tell how much space
is being covered or what the exact direction or trajectory of a given
traveling movement is in the space. You can’t reconstruct that dance
from the video. And there’s only one video of it.

Are you setting up some means of ensuring that there are dancers
always trained to reperform your work?

No, I’m not. With Trio A, it will be up to the five transmitters I’ve

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Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

trained. They will decide when they’re reaching a point where they can
teach it to others. In my first book, titled Work in 1961–73, I give people
permission to use the notes it contains to remake the dances. At the
time that I wrote the notes, I thought they were elaborate and clear, but
a lot of it I can’t decipher now. I give permission and ask to be credited
in the program notes.

You are a teacher and mentor to many artists. What kinds of skills,
ideas, and dispositions do you wish for your students and emerging
artists? And for the institutions that might one day support their work?

The artists need lots of courage and tenacity. The curators need
sensitivity as well as courage and tenacity. The institutions need to

In your now well-known “No Manifesto” from 1965, you rejected
notions of spectacle and virtuosity. What is your thinking about such
words now, along with counterterms such as the everyday or amateur?

I revised my “No Manifesto” in 2008.


1965 [2008]
No to spectacle [Avoid if at all possible.]
No to virtuosity [Acceptable in limited quantity.]
No to transformations and magic and make-believe [Magic is out; the
other two are sometimes tolerable.]
No to the glamour and transcendence of the star image [Acceptable only
as quotation.]
No to the heroic [Dancers are ipso facto heroic.]
No to the anti-heroic [Don’t agree with that one.]
No to trash imagery [Don’t understand that one.]

© 2016
Interview—Yvonne Rainer IToP

No to involvement of performer or spectator [Spectators: stay in your

No to style [Style is unavoidable.]
No to camp [A little goes a long way.]
No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer
No to eccentricity [If you mean “unpredictability,” that’s the name of
the game.]
No to moving or being moved [Unavoidable.]

© 2016