Video installation based on Cage's 49 Waltzes
Baryshnikov Arts Center
BARYSHNIKOV ARTS CENTER PRESENTS
COSMOPOLIS: 49 WALTZES FOR THE WORLD (2013)
A Video Installation by Roberta Friedman and Daniel Loewenthal
Based on 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs by John Cage
December 11 – 15
New York, NY, October 30, 2013 — Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) presents filmmakers Roberta Friedman and Daniel Loewenthal’s global documentary project based on experimental composer John Cage’s 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs. The video installation, on view at BAC beginning Wednesday, December 11 through Sunday, December 15, creates striking visual and sound portraits taken from the streets of Beijing, Graz, Detroit, Cairo, and New York City, reflecting urban cultures in transition.
A unique artwork by composer John Cage entitled 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs appeared in Rolling Stone magazine in 1977. Using the I Ching method of chance operations, he had superimposed 49 multicolored triangles identifying street locations on a Hagstrom map of New York City. Cage later derived from the map a score "for performer(s) or listener(s) or record maker(s)," encouraging participants to go to the apex of each angle and listen to the sounds of the city. Of Cage’s score, Mark Swed of The Wall Street Journal wrote: “At the core…is surprise, the surprise of finding unnoticed beauty in sounds, and sometimes sights, we might never have thought interesting or even desirable to investigate.”
One of those influenced by 49 Waltzes was Don Gillespie, Cage's music publisher, who sought to create a video realization of Cage’s graphic score. Gillespie, his colleague Gene Caprigio, and his collaborator, filmmaker Roberta Friedman, used a rotating camera to film the 147 New York City locations denoted in the score. The duration of each “waltz”—the footage taken at each location—was determined using chance operations. The resultant feature-length film, 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs, was released in 1994.
Inspired by the idea that Cage’s work could be “performed” other places, Friedman and filmmaker Daniel Loewenthal have applied Cage’s concept to develop a series of video installations from cities worldwide, which to date include Beijing, Graz, Detroit, and Cairo. Excerpts of footage from these places comprise a full-length feature film entitled Cosmopolis: 49 Waltzes for the World (2013), which will have its World Premiere at BAC, on view in Studio 4B.
Also on view, in BAC’s adjacent Studio 4A, will be video installations from each city: 49 Waltzes for the Gated City (Beijing, China, 2010); the World Premieres of 49 Waltzes for Graz (Graz, Austria, 2012) with software design by Isaac Dimitrovsky, and 49 Waltzes for the Motor City (Detroit, Michigan, 2013) with program design by Stephen Bannasch; the work-in-progress 49 Waltzes for Al-Qahira (Cairo, Egypt, 2007 and 2009); and the original 49 Waltzes for the Five Boroughs (NYC, 1994). All map graphics and installation design is by Andrew Matusik.
From the most populated city in the Arabic-speaking world, to the narrow alleyways of China’s ancient city, to the deserted streets of Detroit, Friedman and Loewenthal’s vivid interpretation of Cage’s graphic score places an intimate lens on the sights and sounds of global environments.
Cosmopolis: 49 Waltzes for the World will be on view in Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Studios 4A and 4B from December 11 through December 15:
December 11 (Wednesday, 12 – 8PM)
December 12 (Thursday, 6 – 9PM)
December 13 (Friday, 12 – 10PM)
December 14 (Saturday 12 – 10PM)
December 15 (Sunday 12 – 6PM)
Admission is free. Visit bacnyc.org for viewing hours.
Baryshnikov Arts Center is located at 450 W. 37th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues.
About the Artists:
Roberta Friedman is a filmmaker and video artist whose projects have ranged from the commercial—including George Lucas’s Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, specializing in sparks, matte work, and swords—to the experimental, such as her video The Erl King, created in collaboration with Grahame Weinbren, which was the first interactive art piece and was acquired by the Guggenheim Museum for its permanent collection. Friedman’s work spans a large assortment of film and video productions as well as collaborations with new music artists and composers, which have been presented extensively in the United States and Europe at the Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum, MOMA, the Pompidou Centre, and other venues. Friedman’s experimental films are among those selected for preservation by the American Academy of Film in Los Angeles. She is currently producing Are We Not Men: A DEVO Documentary. Friedman is an Associate Professor of Film at Montclair State University’s School of Communication & Media.
Daniel Loewenthal is a documentary filmmaker and feature film editor with 40 studio and independent credits. Also a photographer, Loewenthal’s work has taken him to Cambodia, China, Namibia, The Republic of South Africa, Indonesia, Europe, the Caribbean, and Egypt. Loewenthal teaches at Montclair State University and Fairleigh Dickenson University. His work has aired on The Discovery Channel, Bravo, and TBS, and has been shown at the Sundance film Festival, Palm Springs Film Festival, and the Tribeca Film Festival.
About Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC):
BAC is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. BAC’s opening in 2005 heralded the launch of this mission, establishing a thriving creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world. BAC’s activities encompass a robust residency program augmented by a range of professional services, including commissions of new work, as well as the presentation of performances by artists at varying stages of their careers. In tandem with its commitment to supporting artists, BAC is dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at affordable ticket prices. www.bacnyc.org
BAC is grateful for the support of its generous individual and institutional annual fund donors in 2013:
The AG Foundation, Arison Arts Foundation, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Lisa Rinehart, Bloomberg, Tina and Jeffrey Bolton Family Fund, Catherine Brennan, Clyde Brownstone, Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation, Citizens of Humanity, Frank and Monique Cordasco, The Irene Diamond Fund, Richard and Jennie DeScherer, Joseph and Diana DiMenna, James H. Duffy, Ehrenkranz Family Foundation, The Enoch Foundation, Barbara Fleischman, Sandra Foschi, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Slavka B. Glaser, Louise Guenther, Agnes Gund, Roger and Joan Hooker, Huong Hoang, The Howard Gilman Foundation, Danny Kaye and Sylvia Fine Kaye Foundation, Donald M. Kendall, Kent-Lucas Foundation, Jarrett and Maritess Lilien, Jane Lipton, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Aidan Mooney, National Endowment for the Arts, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Steven and Michèle Pesner, Princess Grace Foundation-USA, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Dorothy Scheuer, The Shubert Foundation, Christina Sterner, The Thompson Family Foundation, Jennifer Tipton, and Suzanne Weil.