It would be a mistake to leave Leap Before You Look with romantic notions. Anyone claiming there is nobility in poverty has likely never been poor. During Black Mountain College's 24-year existence everyone struggled financially, and eventually that is what led to its closing in 1957. Regardless, the school likely would not have survived even the pre-war years had it not been for its commitment to experiential learning and hard work, and an evolving faculty and student body who were up for the challenge. Leap Before You Look makes that as clear as it does the creative value of teaching art as a whole rather than chopping it up into falsely unrelated disciplines such as painting, dance, sculpture, architecture and music.
The Boston ICA's exhibition is so thorough that it deserves more than one visit. At the end of my initial viewing, I still grappled with the Jackie Brown question, what happened, man? However I also understood that there was something within American mythology that was not only true but in many ways beautiful. And it stood on the banks of Lake Eden.
Leap Before You Look runs through January 24, 2016. Go here for a schedule of live performances of dances choreographed by Merce Cunningham and music composed by John Cage.
- Jim Kiely, 13FOREST Gallery