Surreal objects from iconic 70's opera Einstein on the Beach to be displayed at Backlit Gallery

Surreal objects from iconic 70's opera Einstein on the Beach to be displayed at Backlit Gallery

Review by Rachel Gorman, Nottingham Post
Sneinton-based Backlit Gallery will be showcasing objects from the iconic 1970's opera Einstein on the Beach as part of its latest exhibition - the first time the props have been displayed outside of New York.

Named after Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's five hour mock historical masterpiece the exhibition will dispaly work produced by the show's creators during its development between 1973 and 1976 including Wilson's rarely seen storyboards, texts by Christopher Knowles, a performance score by Philip Glass, drawings by Lucinda Childs and a stage direction from Andy De Groat. Wilson's iconic Einstein Chair, originally created for the performance will also be on view.

The exhibition is supported by Nottingham based Dance4, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and New York's Paula Cooper Gallery. The work on display is considered by the opera's creators to be the "DNA of the original stage work" and this exhibition marks the first time these works have been housed collectively outside of New York.

Backlit director Mathew Chesney said: "I first saw this work exhibited in 2012 at New York's Paula Cooper Gallery and since then I've wanted to bring the work to Nottingham.

"Paula Cooper Gallery is one of the international art world's most venerable galleries and we really wanted to emulate the impact of their New York show, whilst also re-imagining it for Nottingham audiences.

"We are extremely proud to be housing these artefacts, not only because of their historical and cultural importance, but also because it is not often that works from international private collections like this are seen in Nottingham."

Since Einstein on the Beach's debut in 1976, it has gone through several revivals to be both performed and re-imagined as an inspiration for filmmakers, artists, fashion designers and performers.

Assistant to associate directors at Paula Cooper Gallery Nora Woodin said: "The Paula Cooper Gallery is delighted to see this show traveling to Nottingham. It was originally organized to celebrate the 2012 re-staging of Robert Wilson and Philip Glass's ground breaking opera in New York, which has since embarked on an international tour.

"The exhibition includes materials related to the original 1976 production as well as works that were fundamental to the opera's conception. In particular, Robert Wilson's foundational storyboards and Philip Glass' score illuminate their collaborative artistic process. The show also includes drawings and texts which highlight the contributions of Lucinda Childs, Andy De Groat and Christopher Knowles.

"We are thrilled that new audiences will have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the masterwork, Einstein on the Beach."

Einstein on the Beachbegan in the 1970's as a series of conversations between Robert Wilson and Philip Glass. Focussing on the almost mythical figure of Albert Einstein, Wilson and Glass were able to move away from conventional biographical narrative and instead present Einstein as a cypher or symbol of the 20th Century, evoking themes of nuclear war, technology and the compression and extension of time.

On Saturday May 9 project collaborators Dance4 have invited dance artist and principal lecturer of dance at De Monfort University Sally Doughty, to perform her response to the original choreographic score of Lucinda Childs. This will be followed by a talk on her approach to creating new work from archived material.

Paul Russ, artistic director and chief executive of Dance4 said: "Dance4 is delighted to be presenting two events in response to this exhibition. Sally Doughty will undoubtedly provoke yet more thought about what dance is and where dance can happen.

"After the success of previous partnership projects with Backlit, I am thrilled to be working again with the gallery on what promises to be an extraordinary exhibition."

Einstein on the Beach exhibition runs from April 11 to May 17, midday – 5pm, Thursday through till Sunday.

Orginally written by Rachel Gorman and posted on www.nottinghampost.com. See the original review here.

Dance4 will present the following performance and talk in response the exhibtion:

Hourglass by Sally Doughty - Saturday 9 May at 1pm and 3pm.
Talk with Sally Doughty and Paul Russ - Saturday 9 May at 4pm.