Freitag, 14. Februar 2014

The impertinence of constraint

Jennie Zimmermann and me doing Minimal Improvisation at Tatwerk, Berlin.

When perceived within a certain context, for example in comparison to works of Morton Feldman, what we do seems pretty natural and while we do it, it happens within an easy flow. But still, in the broader context of music, there seems to be a certain obscenity, a provocative quality to it.
No presentation of artistic skills, no effort to capture an audiences attention, the impertinence of constraint. What we do, may easily be perceived outside the boundaries of cultural practices labeled 'music'. Specialists may enjoy it, but for the general public, the amount of passivity involved causes irritation.

I am asking myself why I am content with this position. My aim is not to adress only an audience of specialists. What is demanding about Minimal Improvisation is it´s sparseness -  as if something is missing. I do love this quality of emptiness, I enjoy it while performing, but I understand that it is demanding and I guess I do love it exactly in being demanding. It forces any listener to lean forward into the music or stay outside, there is no attempt to catch the attention.

Of course, there is a contradiction: art is always communication, although in many cases it is by no means clear what it is, that it communicates, it is basically an act of putting something forward, of showing something, it´s no use denying that.

Of course there is a long tradition of art that is centered around this contradiction: showing that it is not showing anything, or, emphasizing that it is showing only very little. With Minimal Improvisation, we are part of that tradition.
I did mention Morton Feldman, but I do also relate to the repetitive primitivism of Heavy Metal pioneers Black Sabbath or the cold absence of human individuality that some Techno tracks display.

But still, there is the potential to irritate be acting so artistically restraint, by evoking the feeling that something is missing and somehow, that irritation is crucial to me. Why?

In my search for an answer to that question I came across the writings of Victor Klemperer and Imre Kertesz about their experiences under the Nazi-regime. I noticed that I actually enjoyed their descriptions, especially the point of view that they use to tell their stories: it is a somewhat disconnected perspective to the world, a remoteness from life and also, from one´s own personality.
Something is missing in their descriptions, there is a lack of identification with themselves, with their own emotionality. Reading their works gives me a sense of comfort, because I strongly connect to this disconnectedness.

I have to go deeper into this later, but for now I feel that this is a perspective that is worth being shown and that it can not be conveyed by describing it, but by imposing the experience on the listener. Don´t get me wrong, I´m not about history here, I am about a perspective that is relevant today.

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