Yvonne Rainer: Questionnaire
Like many museums around the world, Remai Modern has closed as part of a broad response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although our program has been suspended, artists remain at the forefront of our thoughts. The museum has reached out to artists involved in our programming to gather their perspectives on the experience of these unprecedented times.
Tuesday, April 21, 2020. 1:31 PM
1. Where are you? What can you tell us about your current living situation, or the conditions in your neighbourhood/city?
My spouse, Martha, and I live in a five-room apartment in northern Manhattan. We are “sequestered in place,” or something like that. We have groceries delivered but manage to take walks in or adjacent to our neighborhood park. Martha has sewn lower face masks for both of us out of colorful material. I gnash my teeth while reading about the head Asshole in Washington in the daily NY Times. Martha is auditing an online course at Columbia University on Ecology and Politics, or something like that. I keep in touch with family and friends via email and phone and try to avoid Skype and Zoom and such technological frustrations.
2. How are you continuing your practice during this time?
The performance of my most recent (I hope not my last) dance, a duet for Brittany Bailey and myself with recitations from Peter Schjeldahl’s 77 Sunset Me, was cancelled due to the pandemic, so I try to keep at least my body intact with weight lifting and floor exercises and fast walking outside when the weather permits. The mind is another matter: I keep adding to what has become a 21,000-word rant for Apollo, who comes down from Olympus to try to straighten things out here on Earth, of course without success!
3. What things or ideas are you finding comfort in right now?
Food, sleep, affection, fantasies of choreography, friends’ voices, occasional hugs with Martha
4. What artworks, music, books, or films have been in your mind during this time?
Television detective series, New Yorker articles, Bach
5. What are you letting go of? What are you holding on to?
I’m an obsessive sort, so it’s hard to “let go” of anything I was used to before, like taking the subway downtown to lunch with a friend, restaurants, movie theaters, concerts, etc. And part of that obsession has to do with “holding on” to my rage at Rump and his criminal cohorts.
6. What are you looking forward to?
Without question, my former life, but, more than that, major changes in the powers that be along with social and economic redressing of undemocratic inequalities in the US.
Yvonne Rainer is a long-time resident of New York City and has been involved in film, dance and writing for the last 50 years. In addition to dance and film history, her work has concerned itself with recent and current political issues such as ecology, social injustice and feminism.
Her dance group, informally known as “The Raindears,” performed Continuous Project: Sixty Years, a performance of early and recent work at Remai Modern in 2019. Several books dealing with her work have recently been, or are about to be, published including: Yvonne Rainer: Work 1961-73, Moving and Being Moved, and Revisions: Essays by Apollo Musagete, Yvonne Rainer, and Others.