Eszter Salamon. <i>Dance for Nothing.</i> Photo © Alain Roux

Eszter Salamon: Dance for Nothing

Guests enter through the film entrance at 11 W 53 Street

Thursday, January 16, 2014, 7:00 p.m.

The Werner and Elaine Dannheisser Lobby Gallery, fourth floor

The Performance Program is part of MoMA’s increased focus on the historical as well as the contemporary practice of performance-based art. The ongoing series brings documentation and reenactments of historic performances, thematic group exhibitions, solo presentations, and original performance works to various locations throughout the Museum.

“I had a problem with insomnia so I thought I should empty my head.
Then I thought I should maybe start by emptying my dance
and then later on empty my head..."

Thus begins Eszter Salamon's Dance for Nothing, a performance that uses John Cage's extraordinary experimental work Lecture on Nothing (c. 1949–50) as a spoken, rhythmic score.

Lecture on Nothing, a prose work, was composed on the page like a piece of music, replete with moments of pause, repetition, and a complex time scheme. Salamon recites a text, her movements becoming a parallel action, introducing different—and perhaps more contemporary—moods and temporalities. Over the course of the piece, Cage's words and Salamon's gestures intersect and diverge, depending on the connotative juxtapositions, along with each viewer's predispositions and reaction. The two elements are meant to be interpreted independently, as Salamon explains: "The dance should be autonomous and never become an illustration or a commentary on the text."

MoMA's presentation of Dance for Nothing—in its U.S. premiere—is organized in conjunction with the exhibition There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage's 4'33", which centers around MoMA’s recent acquisition of 4'33", Cage’s groundbreaking “silent” score. This work represented a groundbreaking revolutionary gesture, introducing chance procedures and subverting the conventions of music—and of art in general. 4'33" remains a major influence on contemporary art practice and theory.

Eszter Salamon is a Paris- and Berlin-based choreographer, dancer, and performer whose work has been presented internationally. She has created a great number of remarkable solo works, including What a Body You Have, Honey and Giszelle (both 2001), in collaboration with Xavier Le Roy; Reproduction (2004), a piece for eight dancers; Magyar Tàncok (2005), with Hungarian folk dancers and musicians; Nvsbl (2006) and AND THEN (2007), a film-choreography in collaboration with Bojana Cvejić; Dance #1/Driftworks (2008), in collaboration with Christine De Smedt; Dance for Nothing (2010); and, with B. Cvejić, C. Dambrain, and Terre Thaemlitz, TALES OF THE BODILESS (2011). In 2012, she premiered her solo documentary performance Melodrama at the Berlin Documentary Forum.

In conjunction with the exhibitions There Will Never Be Silence: Scoring John Cage's 4'33", Performance Program, and Eszter Salamon: Dance for Nothing