Robert Wilson + Charles Renfro Talk about Nothing
"We do not live inside a void that could be colored with diverse shades of light, we live inside a set of relations that delineates sites which are irreducible to one another and absolutely not superimposable on one another." –Michel Foucoult, Des Espace Autres (1967)
Renowned avant-garde stage director Robert Wilson addresses the significance of space and emptiness with the architect Charles Renfro of Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
Since the late 1960s, Robert Wilson's productions have decisively shaped the look of theater and opera. Of Wilson's artistic career, Susan Sontag has added "it has the signature of a major artistic creation. I can't think of any body of work as large or as influential." Wilson became a leader of Manhattan's burgeoning downtown art scenes in the 1970s with works created for his company Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds: King of Spain (1969), Deafman Glance (1970), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (1973), and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974). When he turned his attention to large-scale opera and, with Philip Glass, created the monumental Einstein on the Beach (1976), he achieved worldwide acclaim and altered conventional notions of a moribund form. Major European theaters and opera houses sought him out. In Berlin at the Schaubühne he created Death, Destruction & Detroit (1979) and Death, Destruction & Detroit II (1987); and at the Thalia he presented the groundbreaking musical works The Black Rider (1991) and Alice (1992). He has also applied his striking formal language to the operatic repertoire, including Parsifal in Hamburg (1991), Houston (1992), and Los Angeles (2005); The Magic Flute (1991) and Madame Butterfly (1993); and Lohengrin at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (1998 & 2006). Wilson recently completed an entirely new production, based on an epic poem from Indonesia, entitled I La Galigo, which toured extensively and appeared at the Lincoln Center Festival in the summer of 2005. Extensive retrospectives of his art have been presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He has mounted installations at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, London's Clink Street Vaults, and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao. His extraordinary tribute to Isamu Noguchi has been exhibited recently at the Seattle Art Museum, and his installations of the Guggenheim's Giorgio Armani retrospective have traveled to London, Rome, and Tokyo.
Charles Renfro was an associate at Smith-Miller+Hawkinson Architects and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, and a founding partner of the Department of Design before joining Diller + Scofidio in 1997. He has served as Project Leader on Brasserie, Eyebeam, the BAM master plan (with OMA), Blur, and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. Recently, Renfro has served as a Design Principal for the redesign and expansion of The Juilliard School, Alice Tully Hall, Public Spaces at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, High Line, and the Museum of Image and Sound in Rio de Janiero, among other projects. Prior to joining DS+R, his work has been exhibited in several galleries including the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York. He lectures frequently both in the United States and abroad and has been on the faculty of Columbia since 2000 and was the Cullinan Visiting Professor at Rice University in 2006.