Magazine article Artforum International

Peter Moore: Sonnabend

Magazine article Artforum International

Peter Moore: Sonnabend

Article excerpt

The photographer Peter Moore was the visual historian of a thickly busy period in New York art that began in the early '60s, when he grew fascinated by the blossoming of what his archive calls "Fluxus, happenings, performance art, experimental music, and dance." With his wife, Barbara Moore, he was a part of this community as well as its observer and documentarian. Performance is ephemeral: "If I don't record these," Moore said of the works he photographed, "they'll be lost." So he did, shooting several hundred thousand pictures that treat this art with an artistry of their own and collectively fix an image of their time and place.

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The photographs here were taken between 1963 and 1975, and, although many of their protagonists are still working, they show a vanished world. Moore followed a spectrum of performers but this selection focused mainly on the founding choreographers of the Judson Dance Theater: Trisha Brown, Lucinda Childs, Simone Forti, David Gordon, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, and Yvonne Rainer. The presence of Merce Cunningham's Night Wandering, which Moore shot in 1965, seemed a nod to a father of that scene, and several photographs of performances by Robert Rauschenberg and Robert Morris showed work in its orbit. A number of images, featuring Yoko Ono, Nam June Paik, and Charlotte Moorman, touched on Fluxus, but those artists, too, were to varying degrees infused with Cunningham-type thinking, or rather with thinking inseparably shared by Cunningham and his partner John Cage. (In fact, one photograph here from 1965 showed Paik and Moorman performing a Cage composition.) The show was conceived, then, not to suggest the scope of Moore's archive but to sketch one corner of it.

The audience for the performances at the Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square, and in spiritually congenial lofts and gallery spaces, can never have been big, and the dances were made up to forty-odd years ago; surely the majority of this show's viewers must rely on images like Moore's to know what those works were like. …

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