Performa Postpones Party, Continuing Rich Tradition of ‘Relâche’ Cancellations

picabia Performa Postpones Party, Continuing Rich Tradition of Relâche Cancellations

Picabia’s drawing for the original ‘Relâche.’ (Courtesy Performa)

Performa announced today that its hotly anticipated benefit event, “Relâche,” which was scheduled to occur tomorrow, Nov. 1, has been canceled because of the hurricane. The party, which will be rescheduled, is themed around the 1924 ballet Relâche (“Rest,” in French, interestingly enough) by Francis Picabia and Erik Satie.

“As an organization so deeply involved with performance history, we find this situation to be an ironic echo from the past!” Performa wrote in an e-mail. The first performance of the ballet was canceled because dancer Jean Borlin fell ill. The note continued: “It is also the case for us that our star performer, Ryan McNamara is currently stuck in Los Angeles.”

As it happens, this is actually at least the third canceled Relâche. Elaine Sturtevant, the great repeater of artworks (she’s made pieces by Warhols, Beuys, Stella and others), mounted the work in 1967 as part of a dance festival at the School of Visual Arts. Let’s let Douglas Davis pick up the story from a text published as part of Sturtevant’s 1986 show at White Columns:

The audience finds the doors to the theater on the second floor shut tight. As they mill about in the hall, Duchamp unexpectedly arrives. He walks through the crowd, hesitates long enough to inspect the poster nailed on the door, (“STURTEVANT’S RELACHE,” it reads), turns around without a word and descends to the street below where his wife, Teeny, awaits him in a taxi with its meter running.

A few days later, he invites Sturtevant to dinner. Not a world until the end, when the other guests leave. He asks her how the performance had gone. “Fine, thank you,” she says. He asks if what happened was by intention. “Yes,” she answers. He smiles and says, “That’s quite beautiful.”

We’ll have details on the rescheduled benefit as soon as they’re announced.