By June 16, 2015Blog

Bill Viola once spoke of “falling” or faltering as the optimal state for making art. John Baldessari said, “Art comes out of failure.” Some artists take pride in striving where they risk failure. Samuel Beckett: “To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail.” Bas Jan Ader: “All is falling.”

In May, one night, while thinking about ‘falling’ I came across a funny and melancholy dance by Pina Bausch on YouTube. A short way into the performance (“1980—A Piece by Pina Bausch”), a woman begins to skip around the stage in a large circle, waving a white handkerchief. “I am tir-ed, I am tir-ed,” she chants in a lilting rhythm while Brahm’s Lullaby plays in the background. Round and round she continues, until she teeters on the edge of collapse. She exudes weariness as her chant grows halting, her steps clumsy. Her arm quakes with the effort of holding the handkerchief in the air…

Excerpted from a longer piece I wrote for Brick Magazine, which can be purchased here. Images from “Fig”. (Steidl, 2007), a book of photographs by the London-based artist team of Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin. (With thanks to Martha Baillie.)