Peter Moore

The English-born American photographer Peter Moore (1932-1993) considered himself a documentary photographer and photojournalist.

He wanted to use photography to create thorough historical documentation and thanks to that setting, his residence today sits on an enormous amount of irreplaceable photographs. Typical of this work was his photographing of the demolition process of the old Pennsylvania Railway Station in Manhattan. The demolition of this huge, historic building was photographed through more than 30 photo sessions over three years (1963-66).  

However, he is best known for his systematic documentation of the avant-garde dance and performance community in New York in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. He came into contact with this environment in 1962, first with the Judson Dance Theater, later with the Fluxus movement. He stated at the time that "If I do not record this, it will be lost." There were other photographers who were in on the same thing, but the special thing about Peter Moore was that he continued to do so for the next 30 years. The photos were taken in Judson Dance Theater (Judson Memorial Church in New York), in museums, galleries, in barns and artist lofts, and out in the city. The documentary approach and lack of photographic staging and lighting give these images a historical dimension. You get a direct insight into the environment and the environment in which this art was created.

Through such images, we know i.a. Trisha Brown's famous works, such as "Walking on the Wall" (1971), "Man Walking Down the Side of a Building" (Performed by Joseph Schlichter) in 1970 and Robert Rauschenberg's "Pelican" from 1965. Much of the point of the new dance was that it should examine the usual and basic movement structure of the human body. It was a conscious desire to distance oneself from the advanced modern ballet, which required specially trained dancers. The new dance had an alternative choreography and they were often performed by visual artists and others without education as dancers. Most of what we see in the exhibition is the result of a collaboration between dancers and visual artists.

Some of the movement art from this period was filmed or recorded on video, and it may seem somewhat paradoxical that today we approach it through still images. But it is in this paradox that the artistic value of Peter Moore's photographs emerges. They are documents and they provide an insight into the context of the time, something you almost always lack when looking at painting and sculpture from the same period in a museum. But the images also have an intrinsic value, in that Peter Moore as a participating observer has followed movements and changing body images and captured the positions that have been particularly potent. There is in sculpture a sculptural and figurative element, namely how the body parts outline themselves as frozen silhouettes against the floor and room. This element is something that persists through the duration of the dance and the stage, but it is in every moment a remnant of kinetic energy that gives a force to the next movement. And it is in the most potent moments, where a movement, a twist, a turn, is about to happen, or that a movement is carried out completely in its consequence, that Peter Moore captures the image. Therefore, these images are something we can both see as still images and something we can read potential dance movement out of. That an iconic imprint on the film roll has a near past and a near future, we can see from the dancer's gaze, the interaction of the bodies, the tension and relaxation of the muscles, and the direction of the body parts in their field of action and working space.

├ůsmund Thorkildsen

Museum director

Open every day from 11.00 - 15.00