Thursday afternoon we headed into town to catch the Tacita Dean film Craneway Event at the Frith Street Gallery before it closed this weekend. A warm, rather drowsy afternoon, London teeming with tourists, and just about every pub bedecked with national flags and World Cup 2010 posters. From Piccadilly, we wandered up to Golden Square, where the Frith Street Gallery is now located, and entered the cool, hushed gallery space. Four rows of chairs in a darkened room, facing a long oblong screen; we nabbed seats in the middle of the second row, and settled down to watch Dean’s film unfold.
It’s a gorgeous piece, beautifully paced, and saturated with refracted, golden light. Over three days, Merce Cunningham rehearses his dance company for a performance in a spectacular disused factory overlooking San Francisco Bay. There’s no music. The soundtrack is made up of the squeaks, thumps and brushing of the dancers’ feet on the shiny floor; the gentle prompts and instructions from Cunningham as he observes from his wheelchair; and the sounds of the surrounding port – gulls, motorboats, the occasional booming horn of a container ship. It’s about the process, about movement, space and light, and it is also a quietly moving tribute to a great choreographer.
Afterwards, we sat for a while on a bench in Golden Square, absorbing the film, slowly adjusting to being back in the hubbub of an early summer evening in Soho.