Magazine article Artforum International

Babette Mangolte: Broadway 1602

Magazine article Artforum International

Babette Mangolte: Broadway 1602

Article excerpt

For more than three decades filmmaker Babette Mangolte has documented, in still and moving images, the performances of artists and dancers, from her early chronicling of the work of Yvonne Rainer to her recording of Marina Abramovic's Seven Easy Pieces at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 2005. Considering that she is esteemed as a director of splintered, nonnarrative, highly subjective experimental films and of equally exploratory documentaries (about Robert Bresson's 1959 film Pickpocket, for example), it is a wonder that this was Mangolte's first US solo exhibition. Forty-five black-and-white photographs, most from the mid to late '70s, inhabited a room, a hallway, and an office in this apartment gallery.

Yvonne Rainer, Cape Cod 1972, one of the earliest images in the show, is a head shot of the choreographer facing away from the camera. Rainer's dark bob sways in a slight breeze, wisps of cloud scud across the sky, and a small patch of distant land is discernible over her right shoulder. It is a striking image that refuses to conform to the conventions of portraiture. The photograph was commissioned by the editors of Avalanche magazine, a bible of postminimalism and Conceptual art, for a cover story on the dancer, yet for reasons left unexplained was never used--an exclusion that resonates with Mangolte's own margin-alization in the canon of 1970s art. Hung nearby was a production still, titled Roof, 1974, from Mangolte's film What Maisie Knew (1975) that reprises the pose. Here, Rainer stands, again facing away from the viewer, on a rooftop alongside seven other figures, who outline a rectangle as they face each other.

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These are two among several photographs populated by legends of the downtown scene, from Philip Glass to Trisha Brown, Simone Forti to Robert Whitman. Richard Serra, crowned by an eccentric shock of hair, stares down the lens. …

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