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Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body

by Sally Banes, Sally Bones

Buy the book: Sally Banes. Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body

Release Date: September, 1993

Edition: Paperback

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Buy the book: Sally Banes. Greenwich Village 1963: Avant-Garde Performance and the Effervescent Body


Community, Equality and Freedom

In Sally Banes' historical look at the art scene in Greenwich Village in 1963 and 1964, one gets a dense book of information that covers the kind of art made, the creative processes involved, and the key players within this New York season of art. She chooses to look at dance (Judson Church), underground film, the Fluxus movement, Pop Art, and theater (Living Theater, Open Theater, LaMama, Cafe Chino). This all inclusiveness is beneficial in her points on this era's sense of community, equality, and freedom of expression.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I believe that it is chock full of historical knowledge that will benefit artists and art lovers alike. I do however wish that I could make my parents read it. That could be considered one downfall of this publication. It is interesting for me to read, as a choreographer, but it is lacking a sense of awareness for the non-artist. I also felt that Banes has an annoying writing trait of repeating herself.

I would recommend reading this book. It is a good introduction to the people and the era of the early sixties. The most interesting chapters were when Banes chose to contextualize and involve social and political facts/theories with what the artists motivations were. I particularly enjoyed the section covering LeRoi Jones (Baraka) and his plays.

It is interesting because we are still in the thick of post-modern art. Even though this book is a historical look back at New York's downtown, it points out common themes that are in the art world today. For example, feminist pedagogy, taking art from everyday life, community through art, and political art are concepts embraced by dancers, painters, actors, and independent film makers across America.

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