Innovative artist Yvonne Rainer at York’s summer institute

Where is the Medium?, the 2010 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts & Film in York University’s Faculty of Fine Arts, will kick off April 6 with a daylong celebration of the work of trailblazing dance and film artist Yvonne Rainer.

The Yvonne Rainer Immersion features free screenings of some of Rainer’s seminal works and culminates in a public conversation with the artist. The event will take place at the Nat Taylor Cinema, N102 Ross Building, Keele campus. Admission is free.

Left: Yvonne Rainer performing her solo Trio A (1965) at the Nova Scotia College of Art

Rainer is recognized internationally as one of the most innovative and influential choreographers and filmmakers of her generation. In 1962, she co-founded the Judson Dance Theater and began creating groundbreaking choreographic works, focusing on the body performing quotidian tasks, games and repetitions, that revolutionized modern dance. Her early experiments in dance and film led to a series of seven experimental features that have been celebrated worldwide as essential works of feminist avant-garde cinema.

Rainer’s varied and inventive practice as a filmmaker, choreographer and writer continues today with several books, new film and dance works, and collaborations with such notable artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov. Her long list of accolades includes multiple Guggenheim and Rockefeller Fellowships and the MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ award.

The Yvonne Rainer Immersion program presents five of Rainer’s films:

  • 9:15am: Film About A Woman Who… (1974, 105 min.): Rainer’s landmark experimental feminist reinvention of narrative form.
  • 11:15am: Journeys from Berlin 1971 (1980, 125 min.): Rainer’s legendary meditation on terrorism, gender and psychoanalysis and the voice.
  • 1:30pm: Murder and Murder (1996, 113 min.): A wry and inventive hybrid fiction about a 63-year-old woman embarking on her first lesbian relationship.
  • 3:30pm: After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (2002, 31 min): A dance/text film about the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, featuring movement set to the words of the composer Arnold Schoenberg, architect Adolf Loos and philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Trio A (1978, 10 min.): A silent record of Rainer’s famous "minimal" solo.

Right: A still from Yvonne Rainer’s Film About a Woman Who… (1974). Photo by Babette Mangolte.

Following the screenings, at 4:30pm, Rainer will engage in a public conversation about her life and work. Joining her onstage for the discussion will be independent choreographer and York dance Professor Holly Small and filmmakers/scholars Professors Brenda Longfellow of York University and Kay Armatage of the University of Toronto. Performance scholar Barbara Sellers-Young, dean of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, will introduce the conversation.

About the 2010 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute

The proliferation of digital media and a continuing movement toward the dissolution of the art object call into question the continuing validity and significance of “medium specificity”. At a time when artists increasingly engage the moving image via a range of technologies spanning cinema, Web, television, museum and gallery, the 2010 Joan & Martin Goldfarb Summer Institute in Visual Arts & Film asks: "Where is the Medium?" Invited speakers offer a series of events exploring the boundaries and intersections between the disciplines of the visual arts, art history and film.

The Summer Institute offers York graduate students and the wider community the opportunity to engage with prominent international artists, curators, critics and theorists through seminars, workshops, courses and public lectures. In addition to Rainer, guests of the Institute this year include media arts scholar and McGill Professor Christine Ross on May 5, art historian and theorist Thierry de Duve on May 6 and film theorist and Brown University Professor Mary Ann Doane from June 7 to 10.

The Summer Institute is named in recognition of Joan & Martin Goldfarb, long-standing supporters of York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, whose generous gift has made this annual residency program possible.

For more information, contact York’s Department of Film at ext. 22174 or visit the Faculty of Fine Arts Where is the Medium? Web site.