RCA, 19 February 2019

RCA |  Caul (1966) by Mary Glass A lecture by Professor Carol Mavor

Along with Yvonne Rainer, Anna Halprin and Simone Forti, Mary Glass (b. 1936) is an innovative dancer and choreographer, instrumental to the Bay Area art scene of the 1960s and 70s..She is known for her experimental movements based on sounds and images of the ocean. She often danced nude. Her most famous piece, Caul, grew from a letter that she had sent to her close-friend, lover and confidante (the abstract painter Eliza Vesper, 1926-2014). As Mary wrote:I see you. You as blue nothing: without your long-fingered hands, your full breasts with their rosy areolae, your belly with its soft path of thin hair to your vulva, your legs like limbs of thoughts. You are not in me, but of me. One day in 1966, on an early morning, rosy with the same promise, Eliza filmed Mary dancing Caul: nude, from behind on the beach at Point Lobos.

I knew the dance (it was first developed on Anna Halprin’s famed outdoor dance deck in Marin County and it has been performed over the years in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York), but I had no idea that the film existed: until I visited Mary in 2018, at her small bungalow in Point Lobos.For fifteen minutes we watched the silent Super 8 film on her clean uneven white walls. While I watched Mary watching herself, dancing for the sea, we become all eyes. Our pupils are open holes. Tunnels. Wells. We have no lenses. There are no barriers to the free flow of sea water into our eye chambers. We exchange fluids with the sea. Just as Mary wrote Eliza., Mary wrote me.

‘Mary in my urine, my heat, my madness, my sleep, my sea, my me’ is a dance of words—patter and flying leaps taken from my current book project Like the Sea.

Carol Mavor is writer who takes creative risks in form (literary and experimental) and political risks in content (sexuality, race in America, child-loving and the maternal). Her Reading Boyishly: Roland Barthes, J. M. Barrie, Jacques Henri Lartigue, Marcel Proust, and D. W. Winnicott was named by Grayson Perry in The Guardian as his 2008 as ‘Book of the Year.’
Maggie Nelson describes Mavor’s sixth monograph, Aurelia: Art and Literature Through the Eyes and Mouth of the Fairy Tale, as ‘enigmatic, and full of magic as its subjects.’ Currently Mavor is working on a new book, Serendipity: The Alphabetical Afterlife of the Object. She is also working on a trilogy of short books on the art of the 1960s in Northern California: Like a Lake, and Like the Sea and Like a Tree. For all of 2019, Professor Mavor will be the Novo Nordisk Foundation Professor at Copenhagen University.

Schedule

  • Tue 25 October 2022

    Art Night / performance commission by Tai Shani at Fabric, London

    Art Night and the Museum of London are pleased to announce the presentation of a new performance commission by Tai Shani at Fabric, London this Autumn, at 8pm on 25th October. The performance will take the form of a chamber play and is Shani’s first major performance project since DC: Semiramis for which she was nominated and collectively won the Turner Prize in 2019. It will be one of her most ambitious works to date. The collaboration is a precursor to Art Night’s transition to a national, biennial contemporary art festival, with the first new model festival planned for 2023 and to be announced in the Autumn. This work by Tai Shani will be re-staged for the 2023 festival.

    The play will premiere at London’s iconic nightclub Fabric, adjacent to West Smithfield, the Museum of London’s soon-to-be new home. The special “one-night only” show will be broadcast live on digital channels to enable access for a global audience with the assistance of media partner This is Tomorrow. My bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be. (Down, skin, pelt, vellum, alert tangled roots, subcutaneous flesh, subterranean blind life) draws upon Smithfield’s history as one of London’s earliest execution sites and oscillates between somatic histories of political evil and love as an emancipatory power.

    The collaboration also celebrates the Museum of London’s impending relocation to West Smithfield and follows the launch of the Museum of London Docklands’ major exhibition Executions, which traces the history of public executions from the 12th to the 19th century.

    My bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be. (Down, skin, pelt, vellum, alert tangled roots, subcutaneous flesh, subterranean blind life) is inspired by various sources; classic works of literature including Destroy, She Said by Marguerite Duras, the writing of scholars including Jackie Wang and works by filmmakers such as Jacques Rivette. Shani’s commission is a poetic meditation on various historical resistance movements and groups, the spiritual dimensions of anti-supremacism, intersectional queer feminism, communism and revolutionary thinking to recognise the emancipatory power of love and pleasure as a catalyst for radical change.

    Typical of Shani’s practice, My bodily remains, your bodily remains, and all the bodily remains that ever were, and ever will be will deploy a skillful interplay of dialogue and narration. Shani will use recurring moods and motifs to explore eroticism, dark powers, mystical experiences, feminist theory and the theme of Revolution – embodied in this performance as a ghost.

    The play will feature an original live score composed by Shani’s long term collaborator Maxwell Sterling and Richard Fearless (Death in Vegas) alongside digital animations by Adam Sinclair also Shani’s long term collaborator. The play will also feature jewellery and set design by Shani.

    The commission is accompanied by a dedicated creative engagement programme developed in collaboration with All Change led by arts educator and creative producer Dhiyandra Natalegawa. The creative engagement programme will consist of a series of participant-led workshops and creative outcomes, shaped around the key themes and creative approaches in Shani’s work. The project is part of All Change’s B Creative programme: an arts activism programme for young women by young women, working with inspiring artists.