Research Critique I: American Moon by Robert Whitman 1960

Robert Whitman, American Moon. Image courtesy of The Pace Gallery.

“This is not anything like traditional theater, but rather more like a sculptural environment, with the performance integrated into the space.”
                                                                                                                                                                  — Randall Packer
The following video clip doesn’t show the actual performance with the audience, it is a documenting from American Moon. It is a silent video, to be honest it is quite bored. However, we can not get much perception from it regarding its actual content.

Performed at the Reuben Gallery in 1960, American Moon is a multi-dimensional theatre piece by artist Robert Whitman. As one of his earliest artworks, Robert gave audience different sense of feelings by separating them into different viewing tunnels, in which they could sit around and immerse themselves in the slightly different space. This critique addresses the topic ‘collective narrative’.
An article from The New York Times ”Two Points of View, Miles Apart” by Randy Kennedy, noted that
“He ( Robert Whitman ) split the audience apart in separate tunnels to give each person a slightly different sense of the action. In doing so, he fulfilled what the curator Lynne Cook once described as his distinctive desire to work ‘collectively to construct an experience intended for the solitary individual,’ a phrase that could just as well describe a lot of the social and cultural architecture of the Web.”
And we should be noted that Robert made adequate preparation for the performance space. With the intent of giving viewers the different perspective on performance, Robert had realised that the preparation of his artwork is crucial. Therefore he spent weeks in clearing and rebuilding the space. With no doubt, keeping serious to their own works is a great quality of an artist.

Author: Sheng Tao

An exchange student who likes Singapore

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