Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at 7:30pm
Yvonne Rainer's Lives of Performers

155 Freeman Street, Brooklyn

Lives of Performers, Yvonne Rainer, 16mm, 1972, 90 mins
Introduced by Gregg Bordowitz

Yvonne Rainer's first feature film, Lives of Performers combines footage of her rehearsals with the dance company Grand Union, as well as the dancers themselves performing in vignettes drawn from the film script of a melodrama. It's about a guy who can’t choose between two women and makes them both suffer. The parts are played by two women and two men, confusing the viewer—who desires whom? The written lines of the script appear on screen; the pages of the script are additional characters in the melodrama. This film could be understood by turns as feminist, structural, minimalist, and postmodern. Today we can see that Lives of Performers is an example of art that anticipated (initiated) discussions around gender performance, and queer desire. Additionally, the film addresses current concerns such as affect, sensibility, and sincerity. Watching the film, we don’t know what parts are Rainer’s and what parts are quotations. We don’t know whether we should laugh or cry. This is perhaps the most radical job art can perform: producing new emotions. Yvonne Rainer has changed the way we feel and the way we understand our feelings. Her contribution to art is equal to Gertrude Stein’s contribution to literature. In all her works—including dance, choreography, film, and poetry—the artist changes the very syntax of disciplines and forms. - GB

Followed by a conversation with Bordowitz and Rainer.

Print preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with support from the Celeste Bartos Fund for Film Preservation.

Tickets - $7, available at door.

Please note: seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.