This provocative show mentions the museum’s propinquity to Judson Memorial Church, where Trisha Brown launched her career. More to the point, the museum stands just a block north of the Soho loft where Brown has lived and worked for decades, so cheap that she and several resident colleagues spent the bulk of their time plumbing their creative ideas, rather than scrambling to meet the rent.
On the gallery’s main floor are the remains of a series of brilliant, seminal dances from the ’70s and early ’80s. Robert Rauschenberg’s “visual presentation” for the 1979 Glacial Decoy, Brown’s first work for the proscenium stage, can finally be viewed in all its canonic simplicity, separate from the drifts of dancing that, like the series of 620 wall-size black-and-white images sent from four slide projectors, moved from left to right across the space. The photographs, taken especially for this collaboration, progress at four-second intervals. Most are images from rural, probably Southern, America: locomotives, commercial signs, animals, a battered screen door ajar, tangled wires. Never a face, except a cow’s; the shaping idea seems to be a survey of linearity in nature and culture.
Upstairs, where the natural light is better, artificial wattage gleams from banks of equipment assembled by Rauschenberg and John Cage. The walls hold work by Donald Judd and Nancy Graves, who collaborated on several works in the late ’80s, and Terry Winters, the designer of Brown’s most recent dance projects; his tower of graduated cymbals is meant to be looked at, not played.