Serving as the metteur en scène (orchestrator), contemporary artist Philippe Parreno activated time and movement within the exhibition to create a vital way of experiencing the work of the five featured artists. The varied sequence of Parreno’s subtle orchestration of live and pre-recorded sound, arranged in concert with live music and dance performances, enabled the exhibition itself to change over time.
Merce Cunningham’s ‘Events’ were performed throughout the duration of the exhibition by students and graduates from London Contemporary Dance School and dancers from Richard Alston Dance Company. Often considered the dance versions of Duchamp’s ‘readymades’, performances were made up of sections taken from repertory pieces drawn from collaborations with Duchamp, Cage, Rauschenberg and Johns.
Excerpts from Merce Cunningham repertoire included:
Changing Steps, 1975 (Music: John Cage, Design: Charles Atlas)
Scramble, 1967 (Toshi Ichiyanagi, Frank Stella)
Sounddance, 1975 (David Tudor, Mark Lancaster)
Canfield, 1969 (Pauline Oliveros,, Robert Morris)
Walkaround Time, 1968 (David Behrman, Jasper Johns)
Roaratorio, 1983 (John Cage, Mark Lancaster)
Ticketed dance events took place in the gallery setting including Cunningham’s RainForest, presented by Rambert Dance Company and Richard Alston Dance Company performing mixed pieces of his repertoire.
Rambert Dance Company performed one of Merce Cunningham's most iconic performances, RainForest, instantly recognizable by its set design, a stage filled with the beautiful reflective helium pillows designed by Andy Warhol.
Watch: An Audio Slideshow
Hear from some of the people behind the curation and staging of The Bride and the Bachelors, and see exclusive photographs from the installation and rehearsals prior to the exhibition's opening.
The Bride & the Bachelors came to life as dancers from Richard Alston Dance Company invoked the spirit of Merce Cunningham, performing a mixed repertoire amongst the works of his contemporaries in the Gallery.
What was Duchamp like? Why did Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) cause such a controversy in 1912? What drew Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg, and Johns to this fascinating Frenchman in New York? Find out in this specially commissioned animation.
Listen: Richard Alston on Merce Cunningham
Choreographer Richard Alston reflects on the infuence of Merce Cunningham on his career and the Richard Alston Dance Company.
We speak to The Bride and the Bachelors' curator, Carlos Basualdo, about Duchamp's enduring relevance to contemporary art, working with Philippe Parreno and the process behind curating an exhibition of four modern masters.