Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Mind is a Muscle is a multipart performance for 7 dancers who perform a routine of pared-down, ordinary or ‘everyday’ gestures on stage; the work also includes choreographed periods of silence, film and text. Fittingly for a whole book dedicated to one 95 minute performance, Wood’s analysis of The Mind is Muscle is detailed, specific and thorough. Importantly, Wood focuses on one particular performance of The Mind is a Muscle - 11, 14, and 15 April 1968- deliberately setting it apart from the many other instances of the same work. In this, Wood sets the specific socio-political, art historical and physical scene for the April 1968 version of The Mind is a Muscle - a scene set in the context of a 1960’s affluent America, the Vietnam War, Civil Rights protests and an exploding art scene but also inextricably linked to Rainer’s mental state, her health, her friends at the Judson Church and her own (stable) financial situation. In setting this specific scene in all its minutiae, Wood provides a close focus for her reader whilst giving weight to the idea that each performance, both of The Mind is a Muscle and of performance in general, has its own unique temporality; that even if repeated, performance is never the same twice.

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