Merce Mania

MoCA kicks off Miami's tryst with Cunningham

Outside, Gabriel Orozco's untitled stage set is a jumble of taxicab parts stacked along a wall. Originally created as a one-off for an event at the Joyce Theater, the piece has been recreated with the artist's permission after a MoCA staffer combed local junkyards for steering wheels, hubcaps, bumpers, and wrecked yellow cab hoods and doors.

Long-time Cunningham collaborator Rauschenberg gets the short shrift from MoCA. Seven of his silk-screened leotards for Interscape, a piece scored by John Cage and performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in 2000, are pinned like a butterfly collection in the hallway. Rauschenberg created a huge collage printout as a backdrop, featuring nostalgic imagery suggestive of Victorian postcards or vintage photos. The stupendous collage was peppered with depictions of Greek temples, carousel horses, an Egyptian sarcophagus, and even a goose. The costumes mirror the same images printed on the collage, and one can still see some of the original dancer's initials scrawled on the neck tags. Sadly without the dancers, and tacked up like an afterthought, they might have been better off left in mothballs.

Buried in the back of the museum is BIPED, Paul Kaiser and Shelley Eshkar's mixed-media digital projection, using motion-capture technology. The artists attached light-reflecting sensors to the bodies of two dancers, whose movements were choreographed by Cunningham. The results were transferred to a three-dimensional figure, created by Character Studio software. The animation was projected onto a scrim in front of the stage, behind which the company performed. As one stands in front of the projection, the juiced-up figures hopscotch across the screen. Unfortunately, it's the rare exception in this exhibit, in which viewers get close to a whiff of Cunningham's work.

Watch out for drooping art
Watch out for drooping art

Details

Through April 29. Museum of Contemporary Art, 770 NE 125th St., North Miami; 305-893-6211, www.mocanomi.org

Although it nicely provides a historic primer for those excited about the choreographer's first collaboration with a hometown artist, others who truly want to immerse themselves in the Merce experience would be better off scraping up a ticket for his live show next week.

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