Sudden Difficulties (1983)

Conceived, designed, and painted by Elaine Spatz-Rabinowitz, with soundtrack and staging of performances by Peter Sellars; lighting by Hans Tobeason. Performer: Bonnie Zimmering.

Commissioned through a New Works Program Grant to the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston by the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, Sudden Difficulties was a performance-installation that was part of a year long series called "Art and Dance" at the ICA. It functioned during weekdays as a silent, static installation, and on weekends became "activated" — and partially dismantled — during scheduled performances lasting thirty minutes each. The audience would follow from station to station as each previously motionless tableau underwent changes wrought by Bonnie Zimmering, who moved through each one in stagings choreographed by Peter Sellars. The principal metaphor was the cataclysm of nuclear catastrophe, the final moments showing the slow lowering of the massive drape to the sound of Big Band music, with the dancer having disappeared beneath its weight. When the music stopped, there was only the sound of sand falling onto the coffee table from above.

Sudden Difficulties - Installation Photographs

All images © Clemens Kalisher, Image Photography, Stockbridge, MA.