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2013: The Year According to Ralph Lemon

To commemorate the year that was, we invited artists, designers, and thinkers across disciplines — from photographer JoAnn Verburg and design firm Experimental Jetset to writer Greg Allen and “conceptual entrepreneur” Martine Syms — to share their most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects of 2013. See the entire series 2013: The Year According to     […]

photo (2)To commemorate the year that was, we invited artists, designers, and thinkers across disciplines — from photographer JoAnn Verburg and design firm Experimental Jetset to writer Greg Allen and “conceptual entrepreneur” Martine Syms — to share their most noteworthy ideas, events, and objects of 2013. See the entire series 2013: The Year According to                                 . 

During a 2010 visit to the Walker, Ralph Lemon told us of his future plans: “Going forward, I’m looking at the meaning of being an artist, and what might be my place in that.” The notion of constantly redefining what a performing artist is and does has been consistent throughout Lemon’s nearly 40-year career. Starting out in Minneapolis in the mid-1970s, he danced with Nancy Hauser and helped co-found Mixed Blood Theatre. After a stint working with Meredith Monk in New York, he founded his celebrated eponymous dance company — only to disband it at the height of its critical success. At that point he went “enthusiastically into freefall,” as Marcia Siegal wrote in 2000: “Concerned about the way technology had been reconfiguring American art, he set out to look at alternative practices in other parts of the world; he wanted to see how his own artmaking — as dancer, writer, photographer and graphic artist — would evolve if he played by different rules. Soon he became involved in a web of people and projects that could be easily modified to accommodate his agile and curiously moral imagination.”‘

Lemon’s projects since the have been increasingly more global and interdisciplinary, involving collaborators met during his decade of travel and media including text, dance, video, visual art installations (including a set design by Nari Ward), and music (with artists as diverse as Christian Marclay, Tracy Morris, DJ Spooky, and a group of Chinese folk musicians). Like his ambitious ten-year Geography Trilogy, all three parts of which were presented at the Walker, his more recent works have pushed boundaries of both form and content. In recent years, his diverse activities have ranged from curating a performance series at MoMA to collaborating with Jim Findlay on the two-channel video installation, Meditation (acquired for the Walker collection in 2012)and publishing three books on the Geography Trilogy, among many other projects.

In September 2014, Lemon returns to the Walker for a residency concluding with the world premiere of what may be his boldest experiment yet:  Scaffold Room. Using a two-story structure erected in Burnet Gallery, this live multimedia performance installation will explore ideas of contemporary performance through archetypal black female personae in American culture. 

For his best-of-2013 list, Lemon chooses a fittingly diverse array of works, books, and ideas from across disciplines.

1

Paul McCarthy at Park Avenue Armory

WS, Paul McCarthy

Photo: James Ewing, courtesy Park Avenue Armory

The exhibition WS was emphatic, vast, brilliant, puerile, perverse, beautiful, funny, and, from what I’ve heard, very very expensive to put together.

2

Night Stand

paxton_full_3The US premiere of Lisa Nelson and Steve Paxton’s Night Stand at Dia Art Foundation took me away. The wide wide world of Paxton and Nelson: Beckett, Faulkner, Fassbinder, Ono, Laurel and Hardy, Fred and Ginger…

3

Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument

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Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument. Photo: Andrew Russeth

I thought I would hate it. A very famous (and very good) Swiss artist, who lives and works in Paris, goes to the South Bronx, with major support from Dia Art Foundation and does what? Well, the Monument, its specific functionality, became a vital and inspired gathering place, and a good part of the community bought into it and everyone involved seemed grateful for the life of it. Too bad it was primarily a temporary art piece (Gramsci, who?). From the outside it seemed like it belonged there.

4

Boris Charmatz at MoMA

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Boris, the “prince of French dance,” his exuberant (and privileged) generosity. A kind and generous event, dance. His Levée des conflits extended felt infinite. Perfect in the vastness of the Atrium.

5

Now Dig This!
Installation view of Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960–1980 at MoMA PS1, 2012. © MoMA PS1; photo: Matthew Septimus.

Photo: Matthew Septimus, © MoMA PS1

Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980, MoMA PS1:  A most elegant curation. (I also had fun at Blues for Smoke at theWhitney Museum of American Art.)

6

Rick Owens’ Spring Show


The video and online buzz of Rick Owens’ Paris Spring 2014 show, with choreography by Lauretta and Leeanet Noble and danced by members of Soul Steps and Momentum, of NYC, and the Washington Divas and the Zetas from the D.C. area: Oh gosh! I loved how little of what I loved about the buzz and the video had to do with fashion.

7

Sonali Deraniyagala’s Wave

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Devastating. A true story that couldn’t be true.

8

The Grey Album

the-grey-album-lgKevin Young’s The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness is smart, poetic and vibrantly apocalyptic. Pop culture, a (fantastic) (decorative) snake forever eating its tail.

9

Obamacare

Screen shot 2014-01-14 at 2.42.15 PMAmerica cares.

10

Whistle-blower Edward Snowden

SnowdenEverybody cares. (I hope)

Honorable mentions

 

In memoriam: Sage Cowles. Lou Reed.

valentinaIn birth: My daughter, Valentina Ruth.