dir. Richard Moore, US, 1968, 16mm transferred to video, color, 58 min.
Special introductory presentation by Andrew
Uroskie, followed by a conversation between Ursokie and Rebecca Cleman
Co-presented with Bowerbird
Assemblage is a recently rediscovered lost film featuring Merce Cunningham and his early dance company: Carolyn Brown, Sandra Neels, Valda Setterfield, Meg Harper, Susana Hayman-Chaffey, Jeff Slayton, Chase Robinson, and Mel Wong. A collaboration with director and former dancer Richard Moore, Assemblage features Cunningham dancing with his company in a public happening in San Francisco’s Ghirardelli Square in November 1968. Cunningham’s riveting performance--conceived from the beginning as a dance staged for the camera--is amplified by Moore’s astonishing special effects and a soundtrack by John Cage, David Tudor and Gordon Mumma. Rediscovered after Cunningham’s death, Assemblage was transferred from 16mm and colorized by artist and filmmaker Charles Atlas, himself a longtime collaborator of Cunningham’s.
Cunningham and his company spent three weeks rehearsing and filming on location in fall 1968, creating what Moore described as “movement modules.” From these sequences, Moore and film editor Bill Yahraus crafted a motion picture collage of overlapping movements and moments, which occur sometimes in fragmented film windows, sometimes within ingenious superimposed planes. To create the breathtaking hallucinatory collision of filmed dances, Moore used extensive optical illusion and process photography; dancers were filmed as silhouettes and superimposed on different backgrounds. Assemblage serves as a testament to Cunningham’s groundbreaking investigations of dance and movement within the virtual spaces of film.
Andrew V. Uroskie is Associate Professor of Modern & Contemporary Art, and Director of the Doctoral Program in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism at Stony Brook University in New York. Broadly speaking, his work explores how durational media have reframed traditional models of aesthetic production, exhibition, spectatorship, and objecthood. He has published in numerous journals and anthologies in the US, England, Italy, Spain, and Brazil, in English and in translation. His first book, “Between the Black Box and the White Cube: Expanded Cinema and Postwar Art,” was recently published by the University of Chicago Press.
Rebecca Cleman is the Director of Distribution of Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI). She has programmed special projects for such venues as the New York Underground Film Festival, the Museum of Art and Design, Anthology Film Archives, and Andrea Rosen Gallery, and organized many events for EAI, including a panel discussion on the films of David Wojnarowicz, and a conversation between Hilton Als and The Wooster Group’s director and co-founder Elizabeth LeCompte.
This program has been supported by a grant from the Dolfinger-McMahon Foundation