Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends


Robert Rauschenberg. Pelican. 1963 8150

Robert Rauschenberg. Pelican, 1963. Performed in a former CBS television studio, New York, during the First New York Theater Rally, May 1965. Performed by Carolyn Brown, Alex Hay, and Robert Rauschenberg. 16mm film transferred to video (black and white, sound). Editing and installation by Charles Atlas. 2:13 min. Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, New York

Leah Dickerman: Rauschenberg has become well known for the sets and costumes that he developed for Merce Cunningham's productions and for Trisha Brown's productions later on. But it's not as well known that Rauschenberg himself was a choreographer. Pelican, in the video that you see here, was the first of the works that he choreographed. He looked for a space for the event and secured a roller skating rink. He took his cue from the venue, and he asked his dancers to perform on roller skates.

Here is dancer Alex Hay talking about performing the work:

Alex Hay: I did Pelican with Bob. He asked me if I would do the skating. Well, I hadn’t skated in years and years and years, but you don’t forget it, and I guess Bob was the same way. It was sort of like a scary piece to do because we had these big cargo chutes that were extended on steel rods, and we had backpacks. The problem was when we had to circle around Carolyn Brown and not engage these two cargo chutes. I guess they were about 8 feet wide, extended. But we managed quite well. We didn’t collide or fall down or anything like that. I guess that was good.

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