October 26, 2006 – February 18, 2007
The Nasher Museum presented the first cut of a new video, The Rape of the Sabine Women, by New York-based artist Eve Sussman and her international company of collaborators, The Rufus Corporation. The work was a video-musical inspired by the French neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David’s masterpiece, The Intervention of the Sabine Women (1794-1799), with choreography by Claudia de Serpa Soares, costuming by Karen Young and featuring an original score by composer Jonathan Bepler.
The hourlong video was on view as a continuous loop on a large screen as the sole exhibition in one of the museum’s main galleries.
The Rufus Corporation’s sources for the project included contemporary news photography; paintings by David, Peter Paul Rubens and Nicolas Poussin; early modern architecture in Greece and Berlin; and experimental films of the 1960s. The video was shot on location in Greece and Germany.
The Rape of the Sabine Women is a modern paradox, couched in 1960’s vernacular pitting the mid 20th-century ideal of “better living through design” against eternal themes: power, longing, aggression, desire. Months of improvisation went into creating a modern process piece in which the banality of a love triangle grows to epic proportions. Women and children ultimately intervene in a battle that develops from the modernist dream gone awry. Insinuated divisions – rather than Sabine against Roman – become the stimulus for the struggle that sparks the final fight staged at Herodion theatre in Athens. Five iconic locations (the Pergamon Museum and the Tempelhof Airport in Berlin; the Athens Meat Market, a seaside home built in 1961 by the architect Nikos Valsamakis and the Herodion Theatre at the Acropolis) metaphorically echo classic, fascist and modernist themes behind the power struggles played out by the characters.
This new work followed The Rufus Corporation’s 89 Seconds at Alcázar, a video that meticulously creates the moments directly before and after the image portrayed by Diego Velásquez in Las Meninas (1656). 89 Seconds at Alcázar premiered to critical acclaim at the 2004 Whitney Biennial.
The Rape of the Sabine Women featured founding members of The Rufus Corporation who appeared in 89 Seconds at Alcázar: Annette Previti, Walter Sipser, Jeff Wood, Helen Pickett, Sofie Zamchick and Nesbitt Blaisdell, working together again with choreographer Claudia de Serpa Soares, costume designer Karen Young, composer Jonathan Bepler and director of photography Sergei Franklin. To create The Rape of the Sabine Women the company expanded internationally, adding actors Marilisa Chronea, Stergios Ioannou, Grayson Millwood, Fergus Baumann, Zach Zamchick, Katarina Oikonomopoulou, Rosa Prodromou, Antonis Spinoulas, Christos Syrmakezis and Sotiris Tsakomidis; musicians Geoff Gersh, Eric Hubel, Scott Moore, Bradford Reed, Algis Kizys and Craig Rodriguez; and special guest artists including renowned Greek vocalist Savina Yannatou, German dramaturge Ricoh Gerbl and Greek film star Themis Bazaka.
The Rape of the Sabine Women was a Rufus Corporation production funded by Hauptstadtkulturfonds-Berlin, Hamburger Bahnhof-Berlin, the JF Costopoulos Foundation-Athens, Roebling Hall Gallery-New York, Richard Massey and Ninah and Michael Lynne. Additional co-production support was provided by the Nasher Museum of Art, Arario Gallery-Seoul, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. Corporate Sponsorship was provided by Panavision-London US & UK, HD Cinema, Ordino Casting Services-Athens, Microtek Gefell-Germany, Apple Computer Inc., DuArt Film & Video, LaCie-USA, Sony Professional Media, Dreamhire LLC, Tekserve, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company-Greece, Merc Clothing-London, Blackmagic Design and MAC Cosmetics.