Yvonne Rainer, Part 1

Privilege (1990)

Curated by Cassandra Guan

unnamed-2Yvonne Rainer has been a seminal figure in American avant-garde art and dance since first emerging in the 1960s. A co-founder of Judson Church Theater, she pioneered the development of what has become known as “ordinary dance,” an anti-theatrical approach to choreography that emphasizes pedestrian movements and improvisational methods. In the 1970s, Rainer transitioned to filmmaking as her primary practice, producing an oeuvre that registers the influence of postwar social movements like feminism and related theories of psychoanalysis and semiotics. Since 2000, she has returned to her work as a choreographer within an expanding field of socio-political issues. Her latest performance, The Concept of Dust, or How do you look when there’s nothing left to move?, premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2015.

On Wednesday, April 6, Rainer will screen her feature film Privilege (1990) prior to her lecture, “What’s So Funny? Laughter and Anger in the Time of the Assassins.”

On Thursday, April 7, Rainer will also be present for a rare screening of her 1985 feature, The Man Who Envied Woman; details on that event can be found here.



5:30pm: Yvonne Rainer, Privilege, 1990, 103 mins, color/b&w, sound, 16mm on DVD
Winner of the Dramatic Filmmaker’s Trophy, Sundance Film Festival, Utah, 1991 and the Geyer Werke Prize at the International Documentary Film Festival, Munich, 1991.

“Yvonne Rainer’s sixth feature is a genuinely subversive movie about menopause. Out of a subject that has been virtually invisible on film, Rainer has fashioned a witty, risky work about sexual identity and the unequal economies of race, gender and class” (Zeitgeist Films).

Privilege … has a black-on-white act of violence at its centre. As in many of Rainer’s films, she couples her central idea with another unrelated but complementary one; in this case menopause and female aging…. In Privilege, even more than in The Man Who Envied Women, Rainer’s characters have gained a formal consistency that supports the more demanding themes, but an anarchic approach to film form remains: the film is shot in a variety of formats; a single monologue is assigned to numerous actors; the script features what Rainer terms her “plagiarist practices” of quoting other writings and film footage; actors appear in flashbacks with no attempt to alter their age; documentary-style interviews with old friends are combined with carefully scripted, fictional interviews; and the wrap-party is included at the end of the film…. The questions Rainer is raising about racial and economic privilege, and the connections between this and sexual violence, are never answered but left hanging between voices, bodies, images” (Erin Brannigan, Senses of Cinema).

7:30pm: “What’s So Funny? Laughter and Anger in the Time of the Assassins”
Lecture by Yvonne Rainer followed by Q&A with Soyoung Yoon.

Presented in conjunction with the Department of Modern Culture and Media (Brown), the Department of Theater Arts & Performance Studies (Brown), the Pembroke Center for Teaching & Research on Women, Mellon Dance Colloquium, and the Sarah Doyle Women’s Center.