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What is it? Robert Wilson at Stanford University

Posted Oct 07 2008 7:17pm

Yesterday the acclaimed director, stage designer, performer, writer, furniture designer and draftsman, Robert Wilson gave a presidential lecture at Stanford University. With equal parts performance, show and lecture Wilson told about his life and his art: ‘My theater is, in some ways, really closer to animal behavior. When a however stalks a bird his whole body is listening …. He’s not listening with his ears, with his head, it’s the whole body. The eyes are listening’. Wilson said that he tried to work with parallel universes in his art: the side scenes shall not illustrate the text, but speak their own ‘language’. Mime and movement shall not illustrate the lines, but form their own terms. How would an exhibition look like, if the objects did not merely illustrated the (textual based) points of the curators, but worked on their own? It would probably be a language of colors, forms, repetitions, weights, surfaces, lenghts, materials, qualities, etc. In the exhibition ‘ Anna didn’t come home that night,’ which was shown at The Danish Museum of Art and Design in Copenhagen in 1996, Wilson himself gave an example of such kind of ’thing-language’. In one room for example some of the museum’s finest crystal glass were set up as menacing cones in a bowling alley. Their delicate frailty was so overwhelming that I had to stop myself from trying to rescue them. The crystal glasses were no longer just a beautiful sight. Their fragility crept into my body. Could our upcoming exhibitions on the biomedical world also reveal the plasticity of plastic, the weight of an MRI scanner or the perishableness of disposables? Is it possible to feel what it is?

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