“Seventeen photocopies of a man’s hand, each depicting a different highly expressive gesture”: this provocative piece of research from Robert Wilson’s archive at the Columbia University Library draws Marc Robinson back to Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach. From its famously semaphoric choreography to the palimpsest of Wilson’s sketches, which painstakingly drew each moment of staging, “before long, we’re seeing hands everywhere.” As gestures and handprints accumulate, a new portrait of Wilson accrues, one of “an artist so committed to the theater’s present tense” that materialist action overcomes virtuosity, and so full of feelings that his performance might only point to them, like mathematicians indicating proofs just beyond their capacity.

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