June 19, 2016

Strange. Stella Zannou at DOCK11



My neighbour Hannegret (I talked about her before) told me that when art takes you out of a bad mood, it's good art. I like that definition, it's so simple and sincere that one almost wouldn't think of it as one is always searching to complicate things. I could verify its truth yesterday since I was in a bad mood and the dance piece Strange that I saw at DOCK11 turned out to be good art. Not that it was all cheery and optimistic. Not at all. It was actually a satire on the art world. But unlike the ongoing Berlin Bienniale the satire didn't stay on one and the same level, but it touched upon various levels at the same time, taking you from surface into depth and from depth to surface, which was a bit like being on a rollercoaster or like looking at a moebius strip. There was a knotting / unknotting process going on. I've talked about "unknotting" in art philosophy, which unlike the "unveiling" seems to involve a more gentle gesture that leaves behind a trace of mystery. In Stella Zannou's dance piece Strange the bodies were literally knotting themselves, whereas a kind of talkshow host was there to unknot the dancing by promoting its endeavour but also pointing out it shortcomings, its lack of concept, its failure to succeed. "It has to be very very interesting or it has to be really really impressive - one of both extremes: in the middle is not good enough", he commented. It reminded me of the "Does it get easier?" scene in Lost in Translation, where the young woman has a fear to be just mediocre in life. Well, it was nice to see art that is moving in the space in between both extremes. One of the strengths of Strange is definitely its concept, which is funny because the whole piece is about searching for it. Yet all the way it had a clear concept represented by an object that we, the audience, had chosen ourselves at the very beginning and which was put in the spot light, right into view. But the thing is, you forgot about it, which is indeed that seldom occasion when a concept really works and you no longer see it. 

One more thing about art: it asks for the right light. In case of imperfection (and who wants to be perfect?), Andy Warhol recommended low light and trick mirrors because "a person is entitled to the lighting they need." Same counts for art, and the applause here goes to Asier Solana, the light technician of DOCK11. 


My neighbour Hannegret gave me this postcard, Maria unknotting, 1700, 
by Johann Georg Melchior Schmidtner







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