Featuring “Simplicity” as an “Irrational Fear”
Featuring “Simplicity” as an “Irrational Fear” is an exploration of the concept of simplicity and its impact on the direction of contemporary art discourse. Simplicity, which one could argue is akin to accessibility, is so rarely available in this current climate of contemporary art and one finds that there's a tendency to intellectualise away anything that may be overly-accessible or easily understood in art.
Concepts are often times over-complicated in the circumlocutory pseudo-intellectual babble that creeps into discussions, perhaps out of some irrational fear that once it is all decoded, then nothing is left. As Raymond Havens stated in “Simplicity, a changing concept” (1953:3):
Simplicity, it would seem, is a simple matter... In the eighteenth century, critics, essayists, and poets were constantly referring to it as the supreme excellence in almost every field, the "open sesame" to every door, whether of conduct, thought, taste, or artistic production. "The best and truest ornament of most things in life," Swift called it, and Shaftesbury, "this beauty above all beauties." Lord Kames declared, "The best artists ... have in all ages been governed by a taste for simplicity," and Horace Walpole said, "Taste...cannot exist without Simplicity." Joseph Warton went even further, maintaining “SIMPLICITY is with justice esteemed a supreme excellence in all the performances of art."
Ironically, simplicity is not quite as one-dimensional as one may expect. It is engulfed in concentric skins that seemingly lead right back to complexity. Simplicity itself becomes a slippery subject with multiple personalities but nonetheless one that is tackled head on. Through this performance-based installation a multitude of characters discovered in the excavation of simplicity are addressed and re-interpreted to create a triangle of responses from three performance artists, Nathalie Bikoro, Donna Kukama and Nástio Mosquito. The physical absence of the three performance artists in the performance space creates a rift between time and space, thereby necessitating a creative clarity in a media as interaction-reliant as performance.
Monday, September 6, 2010
"...the principle element in it seems to have been that the simple is what is spontaneous, free from artifice and sophistication...it is chiefly this view that Aaron Hill presents in his letter (1753)...'Simplicity,' he explains, is that natural and delightfully instructive elegance of unaffected passion...It is a weaker word for propriety, since everything is simple, that has nothing added contrary to its own quality, and everything unsimple, that has foreign and unnatural annexions." (Pg 6)
So anyway I started listing the possible connotations of simplicity because as I've discovered Simplicity is one slippery subject and as implied in the title "Featuring simplicity as an irrational fear", simplicity cannot be tied down to one particular definition.
I started thinking about Simplicity as an actor in the sense that the connotations of it are only as good as its best role, in Simplicity's case I'd have to say the first thing that comes to mind is the role of "Easy", and perhaps you'll agree that we all remember easy as that hot-pants-havin, potty-mouthed, attention loving floozy who seldom fits in with any crowd with which we are familiar.
Anyway, back to the list of Simplicity's various aliases which include:
Simplicity as that which is spontaneous/free of artifice; simplicity as fear; simplicity as a rejection of elitism; simplicity as instinctive; simplicity as an antonym to complexity; simplification as generalisation; simplicity as non-existent... Just a few ideas to think about. Lemme know if you can think of any more aliases.