The theme of this new issue of our Diary is directly derived from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s precept, who thus invented a wave of minimalism design at a time when the trend was in the opposite. The topic is also very much inspired by the work of the bunch of artists we are presenting in our first Dance Territories program (Melbourne Festival). Doubtlessly, this issue is an overt ode to minimalism, on stage first and foremost, and in life as well. When it comes to artists, one thing necessarily leads to the other. When it comes to us, it is not always obvious that less can really be more.
The artists whom we host in Dance Territories are of that kind who can deploy a single movement over 45 min, or who make movements so imperceptible that one really has to let go of one’s eyes and filter it through other senses. This is the type of work where sometimes nothing really happens (a bit like in Pina’s Bandoneon) or quite to the contrary, some simple things do happen but surprisingly enough, it takes long hours of relentless rehearsals to execute those apparently simple movements to perfection.
All these works are far from being easy to watch. Far from being ‘likable’, entertaining, pleasing, they seem to address and to appeal differently to our perception and you will have to mentally go to them rather than their coming to you. They are more for the mind rather than for the eyes. You would argue why bother, if there is so little to be seen?… Indeed, what is it with all these people indirectly advocating a different way of existing on the stage at a time when everyone just loves massive displays of always faster, always bigger, always more?…
By eliminating all non essential forms, features and concepts, we do seem to reach in a way an essence of living and a certain idea of freedom.
We seem to have today some people who strive to reduce everything down to the innate essential quality of things. By eliminating all non essential forms, features and concepts, we do seem to reach in a way an essence of living and a certain idea of freedom. No wonder there are now so many volunteers to take up the simple living movement, all individuals who seem to be satisfied with what they need rather than want – just read Samuel Anderson’s article to take a peek at this living option.
Minimalism, as defined in the arts but not only, does aim to expose the very essence of a subject by stripping it of all unnecessary features. In life, it works the same. There is a lot happening when nothing happens. It is a sort of poetical economy of everything. A sort of Exist less, as imagined by Kawabata and his new sensationalists – to allow time for hints, fragrances, fragments, fleeting sensations is to fathom the fragility of the unseen and the austere tranquility of restrained movements or words. Simplicity is not only an aesthetic value, it is a moral perception that investigates inner qualities for reaching essence.
Many will be unconvinced that less is more, but one thing is for sure – it takes a lot more to see the less. This issue is an invitation to note that the visible is not always enough to see what is visible.