A Point in the Making - Three Days with Babette Mangolte

A Point in the Making - Three Days with Babette Mangolte

A Point in the Making - Three Days with Babette Mangolte


A Point in the Making - Three Days with Babette Mangolte brings the grande dame of experimental film from New York to Amsterdam for a three-day program on 21, 22, & 24 May, which focuses on learning and looking together.


To present the various facets of Babette Mangolte’s work to a wide audience, we gathered forces across various cultural institutes allowing an inspiring variety of presentation formats. Each institution will focus on a specific part of Mangolte’s work through several artist-talks, a masterclass and film screenings, – including the Dutch premiere of the double film screening of the two versions of Trisha Brown’s “Rooftop Piece” from 1972 and 2012. Initiated by Fleur van Muiswinkel, the program has been curated and produced by Het Veem Theater, If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution, EYE filmmuseum and Fleur van Muiswinkel. This approach is appropriated to the multidisciplinary character of Babette Mangolte’s rich and inimitable work in the field of cinematography and photography, especially her films and photographic recording of the early ‘70s New York avant-garde scene up to the present, as well as her various autonomous experimental films. It is the first time that she shares her work personally with the Dutch audience.


After more than forty years Mangolte Babette’s work and ideas are still as relevant in the current debate about the role and form of recording and documenting performances. Her vision is the starting point from which A Point in the Making | Three Days with Babette Mangolte explores among other things the place and role of documentation within the practice of contemporary performance artists. Several generations of artists and filmmakers will be invited to examine whether, and which, shift(s) can be recognised since Mangolte began her career.


New York avant-garde

In the early 70_s, is Soho downtown New York the place for experimentation and new forms of art and performance. Among the artists who gather there is Babette Mangolte. The French woman is friends with the then still unknown choreographers Lucinda Childs and Trisha Brown, and performance artists like Bob Wilson, Robbert Morris, and Marina Abramovi_. She follows their work regularly by always making photos or video recordings. Mangolte sometimes even learns the dance steps of a choreography, so she can anticipate on the movements she wants to capture. The experimental / new forms and atypical locations used by choreographers, require a new way of thinking about camera setup and perspective. Mangolte is one of the few who captures this new upcoming New York avant-garde scene at the time. This is not prompted by an objective journalistic point of view, but reacts from her own subjective artistic practice to what is happening around her. Her registrations are therefore rather independent, autonomous artworks. Her archive soon turns out to be extremely valuable for the development of performance and contemporary dance in America and partly Europe, and it is still seminal in the archiving and historicizing of performances done in that time.


Performance documentation

The debate about the relationship between performance and documentation to date has been subject to debate. Because of the temporal profile of its performance, constantly changing approaches, and ethical and aesthetic issues, hardly any recognizable styles have emerged. Whereas Mangolte managed to find a unique balance between objective registration and autonomous work in her films, many recordings of performing do not achieve more than a ‘static’ view form the outside. An often-heard argument about this static approach is that it is a pure registration without taking into account the subjective experience of the viewer. The question is in what way that experience can become part of the registration or even can be the guiding principle behind the way in which documentation is made.

In the roaming underground scene of the 70ies in New York, performances were often only seen by a small group of people because they were conducted in unusual, non-institutional, environments. Many of these performances have hardly been documented, if at all, and ‘exist’ only because audience, dancers, and artists have written down their personal experiences afterwards. But due to Mangolte’s genuine curiosity and interest in the work of these artists, the registration of these performances became part of her own artistic practise. Through her camera she had her contemporaries and later generations watch along many of these ephemeral work. She brought it into the world. The paradox between the temporary nature of performance and the permanence of any kind of documentation was thus transcended.

As curator and author Barbara Clausen writes in “Performing Histories, Why the point is not to make a point”, Mangolte’s photos and films do learn the beholder to see. She points her camera at the interaction between performance and its spectator and captures, as it were, the mental image that the audience will remember afterwards. Whether they have been present or not. Her registrations indeed become a point, or link actually, in (the making/afterlife of) a work of art.


PROGRAM WEDNESDAY MAY 21st    - EYE filmmuseum

The EYE filmmuseum will show "The Sky on Location" (1982, 78min). The film screening will take place in the presence of the artist and the evening will by concluded by an interview during which the audience will be given the opportunity to ask questions.

On “The Sky on Location”

Since the Romantic Movement in the 18th and 19th century, man has been seeking the experience of the sublime, such as one may find in wild nature. In "The Sky on Location", Mangolte explores the historical, social, and aesthetic qualities of the American landscape on the west coast. While travelling from north to south and from season to season, she seeks the vastness of the landscape, and registers the changing colours, the rhythm, and wild character on film. Travelling through this unknown country raises questions about the historical and social inheritance that is so closely associated with this landscape.



PROGRAM THURSDAY MAY 22nd – Het Veem Theater

Babette Mangolte will give a masterclass to a select group of professionals from different disciplines and students of fine arts, dance, film, and art history. The starting point is one of her latest films, the documentary "Staging Lateral Pass" (2013), choreographed by Trisha Brown Dance Company.

"Staging Lateral Pass" is Mangolte’s latest film choreographed by Trisha Brown in 1985. The film was shot during a two-week rehearsal period before the premiere of the complex work at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1985. Mangolte did not edit the material until 2013.

On the basis of this film and other material, the artist will talk about her work and her collaboration with choreographers, theatre makers, artists and filmmakers over the past 40 years. Together with the group, she will also examine with the group the subject of 'framing' in relation to the filming and photographing of a performance, the complexity of capturing movement, space and the passage of time of a momentary event, and how the experience of the performance can be displayed in an exhibition space.

The masterclass is an initiative of Fleur Muiswinkel in line with her own curatorial research.




PROGRAM – SATURDAY MAY 24th – Het Veem Theater


11:00 - 13:30 The morning program begins with the Dutch premiere of the double screening of "Rooftop Piece" (1973) & "Roof Piece on the High Line" (2012). These two films, made __at an interval of as much as forty years, forms the basis for a discussion on the relationship between performance and documentation. The registration as a part of - or addition to - a creative process of art, and the position the filmmaker / artist could or should take in it.

In Trisha Brown's "Rooftop Piece" her dancers are positioned across the rooftops of Manhattan, away from the crowd. The spectator is constantly encouraged to shift his/her focus to other points in the senography of roofs, chimneys, and water towers. This piece (and not least the famous photograph Mangolte made __of it) became the icon of the New York underground scene in the 70s. In 2011, Brown resumed the choreography on the High Line in New York (an elevated subway line fallen into disuse that had just been opened at the time as a public urban area). Unlike the 1973 version, the 1.5km-long narrow architecture of the track forced the viewer to keep moving in order to see every dancer positioned on different points in the urban landscape.



The interview with Babette Mangolte will be led by Fleur Muiswinkel 13:30 - 14:30: lunch



14:30 - 17:00 In the afternoon you are invited to join Babette Mangolte and Jacob Korczynski as they come together in conversation to further articulate the questions around Korczynski's ongoing research within If I Can't Dance's Performance in Residence programme. Specifically his project focuses upon Lucy Lippard's novel I See/You Mean (1979) and Mangolte's film The Camera: Je or La Camera: I (1977).



Their discussion will be anchored by two of Mangolte's short films produced in the years immediately before and after The Camera: Je or La Camera: I: (NOW) or Maintenant entre parentheses (1976) and There? Where? (1979). These two works will be screened in dialogue with two contemporaneous works that Korczynski has identified as part of his research field: Martha Haslanger's Syntax (1974) and Ellie Epp's Trapline (1976).




Babette Mangolte (US, born in France) is an experimental filmmaker and photographer. She is known for her films and photographic archive, which documents the experimental theater, dance and performance scene of the 1970s and 1980. Over the past years she closely collaborated with several other well-known artists and made several films like: Seven Easy Pieces by Marina Abramovi_ (2007) which had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in 2007. She shot two films about the choreographies of Yvonne Rainer, AG Indexical in 2007 and RoS Indexical in 2008. She also documented Trisha Brown’s choreography Roof Piece on the High Line (re-enacted in 2012 original from 1973, that she recorded in the film Rooftop Piece). Last year her film portrait, Edward Krasi_ski’s Studio, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2013. Begin 2014 her latest film Staging Lateral Pass (a choreography by Trisha Brown from 1985, featuring set design and costumes by the artist Nancy Graves) was finished.

Mangolte also makes installations that have been and will be shown in several International renowned museums and festivals: Touching III with Collage III (Inhotim, Brasil, 2013), Eloge Du Vert (Montreal, Canada, 2013), Yvonne Rainer: Testimony to Improvisation (Glasgow, UK, 2010), How to look... (Whitney Museum of American Art, Biennale 2010), Movement and Stills (Boradway 1602, New York, 2010).



She also teaches and has publishes essays, theorizing her practice as a filmmaker and as a photographer and has written about technological transformations in film with the advent of digital.

Fleur van Muiswinkel (NL) is an independent curator and art historian based in Amsterdam. She regularly organizes exhibitions national and internationally with young and established artists. Currently she is editor of the publication ‘Color Logics’ for the Art Academy (KHU) in Utrecht. In June 2013 she curated the international group exhibition ‘Abilities’ at Jeanine Hofland Gallery and was curator for ‘INexcatly THIS’, the 2012 edition of the international art festival ‘Kunstvlaai: Festival of Independents’.



In 2011 Fleur van Muiswinkel completed her second master’s degree in Curating at Goldsmiths University, London. Prior to that, Van Muiswinkel worked three years at Office for Contemporary Art Norway as Coordinator for the International Studio Programme and worked in various Amsterdam cultural institutions including de Apple, SKOR, SMBA and W139. End 2013, in collaboration with Het Veem Theater Fleur van Muiswinkel curated the event Composing Through Words. Babette Mangolte and Fleur met in 2009.



Jacob Korczynski is an independent curator based in Toronto. A recent participant in the de Appel Curatorial Programme, he has curated projects for the Dunlop Art Gallery, SAW Gallery, Gallery TPW and the Dutch Art Institute amongst others, and his writing has appeared in The Shadowfiles, Prefix Photo, C Magazine and Fillip. A former member of the Pleasure Dome collective, he was also the co-curator of Print Generation and From Instructions, the 22nd and 23rd editions of the Images Festival.

Recently he curated the exhibition Surface Tension for Oakville Galleries and developed a text (in collaboration with Oliver Husain) for The Power Plant publication Jimmy Robert: Draw the Line. Currently, Jacob Korczynski is curator and researcher in residence at If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution.




A Point in the Making – Three days with Babette Mangolte is produced en curated by curator Fleur van Muiswinkel, Het Veem Theater and If I Can’t Dance, I Don’t Want To Be Part Of Your Revolution; In collaboration with EYE Film Institute the Netherlands; The project is (partly) made possible by the AFK (Amsterdam Fund for the Art) and the FPK (Fonds Podiumkunst); A Point in the Making is part of the Life Long Burning (LLB) project, and supported by the Cultural Program of the European Union.

21.05.14 - 24.05.14

Het Veem Theatre Amsterdam / Netherlands

supported/organized by Het Veem Theater