Art Deciphers Loss



Catch the review of McCarter’s first show, Ten Cents a Dance, in today’s New York Times. Ben Brantley gets to review it ahead of time? Yes, it opened at Williamsport and comes to McCarter September 9 to October 9. My goodness, Brantley makes me want to be sure to see it.

The show is part of a year-long collaboration in Princeton, Memory and the Work of Art, that reflects on the 10th anniversary of September 11. How do the arts shape our collective memory of the past? How does art decipher loss and inform our experience of global events? ask the collaborators.

With a dozen partner organizations, half from town, half from gown, the collaboration includes lectures, performances, and exhibits. For instance, The Life and Death of Buildings has just opened at the Princeton University Art Museum and been reviewed in U.S. 1 Newspaper by Ilene Dube, image below.

Two events to celebrate “Memory and the Work of Art” are set for Saturday, September 10. At 4:30 p.m. at the Arts Council’s Solley Theater there will be a reading of Adopt a Sailor and Ten by Charles Evered, followed by discussion. The first was written soon after the 9/11 attacks and the second explores where we are now. At 5 p.m. there will be at 5 p.m. a lecture at the museum by the curators of an exhibition, Cartographies of Time. Entitled “Mapping History, Marking Time,” the lecture will be followed by a reception.

Also at the Arts Council, two exhibits on the theme of Memory and Remembering open on Saturday, September 10 with a 3 to 5 p.m. reception. The main gallery will feature a members’ show of works on Memory; one flight up will be Jay Plett’s exhibit, “Moment: Memory,” a series of street photographs taken in Manhattan during the fall of 2001 (top and below, left).

This collaboration shows how the leadership of a great university, namely the Lewis Center for the Arts and the Princeton Council on the Humanities, can help organize an ambitious schedule. Yet in some cases the connection to “memory” is not so obvious and I wonder if it’s a little artificial. For instance, on October 6 for Princeton University Concerts the Emerson String Quartet plays this program:

Beethoven Quartet for Strings in E-flat Major, Op. 127

Barber Adagio from String Quartet Op. 11

Shostakovich Quartet for Strings No. 5 in B-flat Major, Op. 92.

I’m not musically smart enough to guess just how this program fits into “memory.” Can anyone fill me in? Perhaps if I attend the pre-concert lecture I’ll find out.

One performance that might fit right in with this theme is Susan Tenney’s “je me souviens . . I remember” as described in earlier posts.

Though it’s slated to be danced in New York, not Princeton, Tenney is a Princeton-based choreographer, and she does answer the question, How do the arts shape our memory of the past….and decipher loss?

Brantley titled his review “Music, Memories, and Regret” and opens with “A piano is a dangerous thing in Ten Cents a Dance, John Doyle’s beautiful, brooding collage on the songs of Rodgers and Hart. a piano, you see, makes music. And music makes memories. And memories, well, as often as not they make regrets. So a piano can hurt a guy bad, especially in a place like the deserted gin palace where “Ten Cents a Dance” takes place.”

I’m looking forward to seeing Donna McKechnie, the original Cassie in Chorus Line, in the six-person cast.

Photos, from top: Jay Plett, T. Charles Erickson, Richard Misrach, Jay Plett, Elliott Gordon.

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