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Crossover QueriesDwelling with Negatives, Embodying Philosophy's Others$
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Edith Wyschogrod

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823226061

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823226061.001.0001

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From the Death of the Word to the Rise of the Image in the Choreography of Merce Cunningham

From the Death of the Word to the Rise of the Image in the Choreography of Merce Cunningham

Chapter:
(p.141) 9 From the Death of the Word to the Rise of the Image in the Choreography of Merce Cunningham
Source:
Crossover Queries
Author(s):

Edith Wyschogrod

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fso/9780823226061.003.0010

This chapter shows that an art in which the materiality of the body and the localizability of space are critical is now engaged in a struggle between the visceral and the virtual, between site-specific spatiality and cyberspace. To grasp the character of this tension, it is necessary to explore not only visible changes in the art of dance but also the metaphysical presuppositions of a postmodernist culture of images. When one of the key figures in the world of dance, Merce Cunningham, who is generally envisaged as an exemplar of high modernism, appeals to the power of images rather than to a semiology of movements as the basis for his new work, then a shift that must be interrogated has occurred. As Ludwig Wittgenstein demonstrated to philosophers the kinetic force of language in his apothegm “the meaning is in the use”, so Cunningham showed the world of modern dance that the meaning is in the action or movement. Cunningham helped to transform the balletic character of dance in the twentieth century into a nonreferential, gestural idiom.

Keywords:   art, body, dance, presuppositions, images, modernism, Merce Cunningham, Ludwig Wittgenstein, action, movement

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