Cécile Guédon

Abstraction in Motion: A Choreograpic Approach to Modernism

27 February 2015

In her lecture Dr. Guédon presents a piece of her first monograph, which argues that a traditional reading of abstraction in modernist poetry, dance, and painting is missing an account of its embodied, kinesthetic dimensions. This primarily can be identified in the role of viewer: analyzing the use of the staircase in various modernist works—such as Marcel Duchamp's painting, poetry by A.A. Milne and Stéphan Malarmé, and tap dancing by Bill Robinson and the Nicholas Brothers—the staircase can be seen as an "abstract machine" or a "kinesthetic playground." The movement or the suspension of movement from one stair to another (moving up or down steps or step-like lines of poetry) becomes an opportunity for kinesthetic empathy in the viewer, and hence the foundations of a "choreographic modernism." The lecture is followed by question and answer.

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