September 17, 2013

Experiments in the Fault Zone

Mills College Art Museum
Students in rehearsal for Harry Partch’s production of King Oedipus, 1952. Courtesy of Special Collections, F. W. Olin
Library, Mills College.

The Mills College Art Museum (MCAM) is pleased to present Experiments in the Fault Zone, a multi-media exhibition exploring Mills’ internationally renowned commitment to experimentation and collaboration across the fine arts. This exhibition is the first museum examination of the extraordinary legacy of artistic innovation that continues to place Mills College at the forefront of advances in contemporary dance, music, intermedia and visual arts.

Removed from the more traditional cultural centers on the East Coast, the Bay Area has provided a unique and fertile breeding ground for nearly a century of artistic innovation at Mills. Experiments in the Fault Zone traces the key moments and figures involved in creative developments at Mills from the 1930s to the present through artwork, sound recordings, experimental films, archival photographs, and video and print documentation.

The exhibition emphasizes interdisciplinary connections between the arts, including early experiments in film, dance and music, such as the dance film Horror Dream, 1947, by Sidney Peterson; Hy Hirsh; choreographer Marian Van Tuyl; and composer John Cage. Avant-garde composer Cage accompanied dance and taught at Mills from 1938 to 1941. Van Tuyl, a visionary artist and scholar, created the Dance Department at Mills and taught at the College from 1939 to 1970.

During World War II, Mills became a haven for avant-garde artists and musicians, including pioneering composers Henry Cowell, Lou Harrison, and Darius Milhaud, as well as ground-breaking contemporary artists such as Bauhaus founder László Moholy-Nagy and Fernand Léger. Active experimentation in the fine arts at Mills continued after the war and the College established an internationally recognized reputation as a center for artistic innovation, notably in cutting-edge electronic-music composition, improvisation, interdisciplinary dance and music collaborations, and a commitment to pushing the boundaries of studio art practice. The exhibition presents an overview of participants who created this extraordinary history, and exhibition highlights include electronic music pioneers at Mills such as Pauline Oliveros, Robert Ashley, and David Behrman; the seminal collaborations of choreographer Rebecca Fuller and Darius Milhaud; and the radical work of painter Jay DeFeo and ceramic sculptor Antonio Prieto. The exhibition examines this rich history through rarely seen photographs, artwork, original scores and choreography notes, programs, films, and recordings.

Experiments in the Fault Zone also showcases recent work that continues Mill’s cross-disciplinary legacy through choreographer June Watanabe’s experiments in Japanese dance/story of Noh theater to very recent interpretations of John Cage’s Credo in US, 2011, featuring new choreography by Molissa Fenley, along with Merce Cunningham’s Event with Canfield, 2012, with the reconstruction of Robert Morris’ original light tower and original score by Pauline Oliveros.

Experiments in the Fault Zone features materials from the collections and archives of the Mills College Art Museum, the Dance and Music departments, and the Special Collections at the Mills College Library. The exhibition is supported by the Claire Ahern Shaklee Fine Arts Endowment Fund and the Joan Danforth Art Museum Endowment.

Public Programs
(Visit for full details)

Experiments in the Fault Zone Opening Reception
Friday, September 27 | 6–8pm
Mills College Art Museum
Free shuttle service provided from the MacArthur Bart station.

EndNeverEnd & inkBoat Performance
Saturday, September 28 | 4pm & 8pm
Mills College Art Museum

Live Music Series
October 2 & 16 and November 6 &13 | 6pm
Mills College Art Museum

Video Renegades: Experimental Video at Mills
Saturday, October 19 | 8pm
Mills College Art Museum

Fault Zone Lectures: Dance
Wednesday, October 23 | 7pm
Mills College Art Museum

Fault Zone Lectures: Music
Wednesday, November 13 | 7pm
Mills College Art Museum

About the Mills College Art Museum (MCAM)
Founded in 1925, The Mills College Art Museum is a forum for exploring art and ideas and a laboratory for contemporary art practices. Through innovative exhibitions, programs, and collections, the museum engages and inspires the intellectual and creative life of the Mills community as well as the diverse audiences of the Bay Area and beyond.

Media contact
Maysoun Wazwaz, T +1 510 430 3340, [email protected]

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