Yvonne Rainer
Activity

Yvonne Rainer

Film series

Curated by Berta Sichel

"My films have always been conceived to be somewhat disconcerting."

If Yvonne Rainer defines her films as "disconcerting" (both in the sense of surprising and confusing), then watching her films would be the best way to find out what type of views are aroused in spectators by her complex explorations of dance and film and of the private and the political.

Born into a family of anarchists in San Francisco in 1934, Rainer moved to New York in the 1950s to study acting. Shortly after arriving she began modern dance classes taught by Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Judith Dunn and Viola Farbe. In 1961 her work Three Satie Spoon premiered in the Living Theater; it was her first piece as both choreographer and protagonist.

In 1972 she stopped acting to begin shooting films. Nevertheless, dance has always maintained a central role in all of her work, including her written texts, which, according to Peggy Phelan, are like "rhetorical performances". Her work has as many cinematographic reference points as choreographic ones, which can be appreciated by her handling of the projection of her theatre work and in her scholarly use of cinematographic allusions in her films. Another inspiring source for her work comes from the minimalist movement that came about in the United States during the 1970s. In a well-known article on Rainer, Patricia Levin wrote: "Minimalism resituated the spectator and reintroduced the meaning of space and time in the form of a presence while ruling out distancing devices". It is true that Rainer used a minimalist aesthetic, especially in her first films, where she conceived of the body as something "neutral". In Lives of Performers (1972), her first feature film which more clearly shows her move from dance to film, this minimalist aspect is perfectly visible.

Rainer is one of the key historical figures in the New York avant-garde scene due to her texts as well as her praxis. Lives of Performers (l972), Film About a Woman Who… (1974), Kristina Talking Pictures (l976), Journey from Berlin/l971 (l980) and The Man Who Envied Women (l985) are considered even more demanding from an intellectual point of view than independent cinema. Although they present an apparently narrative structure, they are formally complex. Her films analyse all facets of daily life and focus on women’s lives. The change from dance to film allowed her to explore the emotional realm through the most extravagant and popular genre: melodrama. By the mid-1990s she had already produced twelve films, some of which were silent short films for multimedia performances, which are included in this selection.

Also included are works like Privilege (1991) and MURDER and murder (1996), where the director examines the fundamental spaces in the daily life of women. Having won awards at the Berlin Film Festival in 1997 and at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 1999, MURDER… is Rainer’s first film after coming out as a lesbian in 1991. Given that a large part of her work deals with women, the body and identity, Rainer was considered by many film theorists as "the model of a feminist filmmaker" even before the artist identified herself with aspects from this movement.

Her work is undoubtedly complex and difficult to classify, yet it is also true that it is aesthetically pleasing—even if that may not correspond to the bourgeoisie idea of pleasing.

Thanks to: Yvonne Rainer, Video Data Bank and Zeitgeist Films NY

see more show less

Film series

Curated by Berta Sichel

“My films have always been conceived to be somewhat disconcerting.”

If Yvonne Rainer defines her films as “disconcerting” (both in the sense of surprising and confusing), then watching her films would be the best way to find out what type of views are aroused in spectators by her complex explorations of dance and film and of the private and the political.

Born into a family of anarchists in San Francisco in 1934, Rainer moved to New York in the 1950s to study acting. Shortly after arriving she began modern dance classes taught by Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Judith Dunn and Viola Farbe. In 1961 her work Three Satie Spoon premiered in the Living Theater; it was her first piece as both choreographer and protagonist.

In 1972 she stopped acting to begin shooting films. Nevertheless, dance has always maintained a central role in all of her work, including her written texts, which, according to Peggy Phelan, are like “rhetorical performances”. Her work has as many cinematographic reference points as choreographic ones, which can be appreciated by her handling of the projection of her theatre work and in her scholarly use of cinematographic allusions in her films. Another inspiring source for her work comes from the minimalist movement that came about in the United States during the 1970s. In a well-known article on Rainer, Patricia Levin wrote: “Minimalism resituated the spectator and reintroduced the meaning of space and time in the form of a presence while ruling out distancing devices”. It is true that Rainer used a minimalist aesthetic, especially in her first films, where she conceived of the body as something “neutral”. In Lives of Performers (1972), her first feature film which more clearly shows her move from dance to film, this minimalist aspect is perfectly visible.

Rainer is one of the key historical figures in the New York avant-garde scene due to her texts as well as her praxis. Lives of Performers (l972), Film About a Woman Who… (1974), Kristina Talking Pictures (l976), Journey from Berlin/l971 (l980) and The Man Who Envied Women (l985) are considered even more demanding from an intellectual point of view than independent cinema. Although they present an apparently narrative structure, they are formally complex. Her films analyse all facets of daily life and focus on women’s lives. The change from dance to film allowed her to explore the emotional realm through the most extravagant and popular genre: melodrama. By the mid-1990s she had already produced twelve films, some of which were silent short films for multimedia performances, which are included in this selection.

Also included are works like Privilege (1991) and MURDER and murder (1996), where the director examines the fundamental spaces in the daily life of women. Having won awards at the Berlin Film Festival in 1997 and at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in 1999, MURDER… is Rainer’s first film after coming out as a lesbian in 1991. Given that a large part of her work deals with women, the body and identity, Rainer was considered by many film theorists as “the model of a feminist filmmaker” even before the artist identified herself with aspects from this movement.

Her work is undoubtedly complex and difficult to classify, yet it is also true that it is aesthetically pleasing—even if that may not correspond to the bourgeoisie idea of pleasing.

Thanks to: Yvonne Rainer, Video Data Bank and Zeitgeist Films NY

see more show less
dates
20 February 2008 – 16 April 2008
price
Per screening: 2 eu. Season ticket: 12 eu. Friends of the MACBA: free MACBA Auditorium. Limited space
title
Yvonne Rainer
dates
20 February 2008 – 16 April 2008
title
Yvonne Rainer
price
Per screening: 2 eu. Season ticket: 12 eu. Friends of the MACBA: free MACBA Auditorium. Limited space
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