Jan 15, 2012

Pina Bausch


Pina Bausch is divisive. Some adore her work. Others reject it as sexist, classist, and cruel (or "torture" as Joan Acocella states in her New Yorker review). For me, if cruelty is present in Pina's work, it is there in an Artaudean sense, not a literal one (by the same token, would these people likewise say Monty Python is about torture and humiliation?). Watching Wim Wenders personally introduce his film, and listening to the interviews in the film, it is striking how Pina is surrounded by love. In one moving moment, a dancer points out (I'm paraphrasing) that Pina had watched her for more hours than her own parents had... who would watch her now? For me, it is Bausch's watchfulness that informs her work, not any desire to depict torture.

Of Wender's film I had mixed feelings. The way the interview segments cut into the dance segments often left me frustrated. Some of the interviews appear to be included for inclusiveness' sake, rather than because they inform us about a new aspect of Pina's life. I didn't like the 3D: I would have preferred to see the images brighter and clearer and without the reflections of smeary plastic glasses in front of my face. And where Pina's performances were peppered with textual elements, these were largely missing from Wender's tribute. All this said, I left the film with the same sense I have when I went to see Pina at BAM. Yes, I remain very resolutely a Pina fan.

Jan 10, 2012



What most impressed me about Maurizio Cattelan: All at the Guggenheim was the way it visually held together. It is remarkable how consistent Cattelan was over the years. Where other artists increase their showyness with their fame, Cattelan's work retains a certain scale of production throughout, speaking of a level of discipline that rubs against his reputation as a prankster. It was a forceful and utterly convincing show. And we must wonder whether 'All' is all, or if the title is just another prank. Both make sense - and this, really, is the point.