The Yvonne Rainer Project: Lives of Performers

Art Center

from 25 Oct 2014 to 8 Feb 2015

Yvonne Rainer, Pauline Boudry / Renate Lorenz, Julien Crépieux, Yael Davids, Carole Douillard, Maria Loboda, Mai-Thu Perret, Émilie Pitoiset, Noé Soulier


Curators: Julie Pellegrin and Chantal Pontbriand


Famed for her contribution to the history of New Dance and for her career as an experimental filmmaker, Yvonne Rainer is one of today’s most influential figures for artists concerned with the possibilities of the moving image, human potential and relational aesthetics.

“The Lives of Performers” exhibition at the Centre d’art contemporain de la Ferme du Buisson focuses on the present-day reception of Rainer’s work by visual artists using installation, video and photography, and by choreographers and performance artists. Some of these artists are reacting more overtly than others to the Rainer heritage, but all of them are addressing the issues she has raised – presence, the Other, notions of community, gender, drama, the role of art, perception and the knowledge acquisition process – and their innovative contemporary relevance. The issue of knowledge processes was crucial for an entire generation of American artists in the 1960s, many of which were enrolled in universities, who started looking into the way knowledge developed and was acquired; this was particularly true of the originators of Minimal and Conceptual art and of experimental music and cinema.


Sharing these aesthetic concerns, Rainer called one of her major dance pieces The Mind is a Muscle (1966–1968), and in a text with the same title she outlined the way the body enables the  acquisition of knowledge and the mind itself becomes a muscle. Into The Mind is a Muscle she incorporated Trio A (1966), a solo she worked on for months, inventorying the possibilities of bodily movement in a continuous flow and exploring energy, phrasing and repetition. Since then this solo has undergone many variations, including Trio A with Flags (1970), which references the Vietnam War, and more recently Trio A: Geriatric with Talking (2010), which she erself danced in a tribute to the Judson Dance Theater, of which she was one of the main instigators. In Trio A Rainer is facing the audience, but she seeks no visual communication with them. Her gaze retains a “neutrality” that for her is an essential artistic given. Her concern is with presence: what does it mean to be here, in the present moment, and what does it mean to be here in the presence of the Other, of others?


Made in 1972, Lives of Performers, which gives the exhibition its title, was her first feature-length film. In it she uses excerpts from Performance, the dance piece she was rehearsing at the time. Her real interest is not in representation, but in these moments of rehearsal – moments of latency, of questioning: the difference between what you’re doing and what you are, between what you perceive and what is perceived by the other; the interaction between the everyday, work, and dramaturgy. Her eye is constantly on the gaps between reality and representation. At the same time, like her tutelary figure John Cage (which she is not short of criticizing to some extent), she leaves room for reality, the context and the unexpected. Sometimes her work makes specific reference to a political situation – the Vietnam War, for example – or of illness, sex and all the fundamental questions of living in common. Her oeuvre is shot through with quotations taken from the history of dance and cinema, as she ceaselessly ponders what the making of art represents in the here and now.


These are the underlying questions in the “Lives of Performers” exhibition. Émilie Pitoiset works at expressing absence through complex rituals and the ossification of a set of acts. Julien Crépieux makes play with viewer perception and movement’s ability to construct/deconstruct a space. Yael Davids uses simple materials to create dramas in which arrangement, variation and repetition conjure up situations of agency: of the way someone can act upon others and the world according to his or her own experiences. Mai-Thu Perret probes the world of women in a host of structures suggesting a politics of the body and movement, drawing here on Korean shamanic dances. Carole Douillard explores the latency – the male way – inspired by a stay in her native Algeria: waiting rendered abstract and iconic in a questioning of the political situation. Maria Loboda considers heraldic figures in photographs whose black-gloved male subject makes gestures taken from Indian dance (which had left its mark on Rainer on her visit to India in 1970). She offers, too, a lioness with its back turned to the viewer and seemingly “doing penance”: one feels a kind of disquiet, as though all is not well with the world. Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz use different media for an examination of the marginal and the mainstream that embraces both the historical and the topical, and portray Yvonne Rainer performing an act of transmission. Last but not least, Noé Soulier presents a dance solo that explores the connections between word and gesture by conjuring up the great dance figures who led him to an understanding of body and thought in motion. “The mind is a muscle.”



This exhibition has been organised in association with Pontbriand W.O.R.K.S. and the Jeu de Paume, with the assistance of the Getty Research Institute and Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, with the support of Pro Helvetia, Fondation suisse pour la culture and the Mondriaan Fund.



Sat 25 Oct at 12 p.m.


navette (sur réservation au 01 64 62 77 77)

départ Opéra Bastille à 11h30 / retour Bastille et FIAC à 14h30



Sat 25 Oct at 12 p.m.

Carole Douillard


Sat 29 Nov

at 5.30 p.m. - Yael Davids

at 6.30 p.m. - Émilie Pitoiset & Jessica 93


Sun 8 Feb

Noé Soulier during the weekend dance « Instantanés »


Sat 29 Nov


Centre Photographique d’Île-de-France > Ferme du Buisson

Shuttle service booking +33 (0)1 70 05 49 80

2.15 p.m. leaving from Paris, Opéra Bastille

3 p.m. talk with Pascal Beausse, Mohamed Bourouissa, I-Chen Kuo, Paola Soave (Agency), Chantal Pontbriand and Nathalie Giraudeau, about the exhibition “Photography Performs - The Body and the Archive” at the CPIF

5.30 p.m. Performance by Yael Davids, followed by Émilie Pitoiset & Jessica 93 at the Centre d’art contemporain de la Ferme du Buisson


4 – 30 Nov

Jeu de Paume - “From Choreography to Cinema”

screenings and lectures curated by Chantal Pontbriand

with Yvonne Rainer, Yael Bartana, Samuel Beckett, Geneviève Cadieux, John Cage, Manon de Boer, Maya Deren, Köken Ergun, Maïder Fortuné, Hollis Frampton, Michel François, Laurent Goldring, Marc Johnson, Sonia Khurana, Florence Lazar, Babette Mangolte, Bea McMahon, Bruce Nauman, Natacha Nisic, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Anri Sala, Richard Serra, Michael Snow, Andy Warhol


Thu 6 Nov at 6 p.m.

École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts

Talk between Yvonne Rainer and Chantal Pontbriand


Fri 12 Dec, 13 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Palais de Tokyo - « Nexus Rainer »

Symposium organized by Barbara Formis, Julie Perrin, Chantal Pontbriand

with Emmanuel Alloa, Frédérique Bergholz, Vanessa Desclaux, Pauline Boudry, Myrto Katsiki, Isabelle Launay, Julie Pellegrin,  Denis Pernet, Catherine Queloz, Noé Soulier, Liliane Schneiter, David Zerbib


infos pratiques

opening hours

from Wednesday to Sunday

2pm – 7.30pm

late openings until 9pm: November 6, 7, 15 / January 20, 21, 22, 23 / February 7






every Saturday at 4 p.m.

exhibition tour + afternoon tea: Sundays November 2, December 7, January 4 and February 1 at 4 p.m. 



book on +33 (0)1 64 62 77 00 or