Merce Cunningham: After the Arbitrary

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Product Details
University of Chicago Press
Publish Date
7.0 X 0.7 X 9.9 inches | 1.55 pounds

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About the Author
Carrie Noland is professor of French and comparative literature at the University of California, Irvine. She is the author of many books, including Agency and Embodiment: Performing Gestures/Producing Culture.
"Merce Cunningham: After the Arbitrary is a rigorously argued, extremely persuasive, and highly topical book. While Cunningham's work is famous for being almost tortuously difficult, Noland successfully reads it through the arbitrary and the human, the abstract and the motivated, the structural and the personal. She has done so, moreover, with a fluid voice that moves easily between the register of observation and the metacritical. It is at once historical, theoretical, and formalist, making it a model of scholarship in any humanist field. Noland moves deliberately, examining not only a sequence of Cunningham's dances but their interlocking relationships with other choreographies, both contemporaneous and otherwise."--Rachel Haidu, author of The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers 1964-1976
"Drawing from previously unseen materials in the Cunningham archive, Noland puts forward that an overemphasis on his use of chance downplays the choreographer's compositional skill and sense of theater--and that the two viewpoints are not mutually exclusive."--Rachel Haidu, author of The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers 1964-1976 "Dance Magazine"
"Merce Cunningham: After the Arbitrary, by professor Carrie Noland, aims to disentangle the choreographer from his partner. In this insightful and comprehensive new work, Noland makes the case that we should decouple the dancer's aesthetic methods from Cage's chance-driven operations. . . . Noland's goal is twofold: to disentangle Cunningham from Cage, and to recontextualize his process as deliberate rather than chance-driven. Through readings of six of Cunningham's pieces, she seeks to distinguish his use of indeterminacy as a highly structured method 'of selecting, framing, and highlighting what he found most interesting visually and kinetically.' To Noland, chance was merely a pathway to the organic--a conduit for Cunningham's preferred movements to interact with one another in unexpected ways."--Rachel Haidu, author of The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers 1964-1976 "Bookforum"
"What a terrific addition to the library! Noland is . . . taking the received understanding of Cunningham, and working against its fetish terms of chance, indeterminacy, nonnarrative, and so forth, to probe instead for Cunningham's interest in human connections and particularities. The effect of moving through Noland's text is of an unfolding of multiple issues and optics, many of them fundamentally biographical, all in turn shaping the kinesthetics of Cunningham's expertise as dancer and as choreographer. Rather than presenting the evanescent medium of dance as a linear compositional project, Noland shows it as constellational-recursive, dialogic, felt, meant, and, most importantly, thought."--Judith Rodenbeck, author of Radical Prototypes: Allan Kaprow and the Invention of Happenings "Bookforum"
"In this groundbreaking study of the work of Cunningham, Noland redefines the very terms with which it came to prominence in the 1960s and has continued to be discussed. Her revisionist gesture is not only timely: it heightens the significance of his work for us today."--Mark Franko, author of Martha Graham in Love and War: The Life in the Work "Bookforum"