Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Silence, Reflection, and Projection

Today I watched an exceptional documentary on Netflix. One that speaks magnitudes about the nature of human beings. The documentary reflected on a performance: The Artist Is Present, Marina Abramovic. It is one of those documentaries that made me wonder, and reflect about the interwoven threads of humans with each other, with the world around them, and ourselves.

The artist’s idea of her performance was simplistic. Two people sitting in a space projecting into each other. No sounds to be exchanged, no physical contact to be made, No distractions. Just sit there and look into each other’s eyes. Silence. Serenity.

We often forget the importance of silence. Silence is what we all lost when we exited our mother's womb. Since then life is all about the interruptions, and dealing with them. The sudden arousal of all sensory organs aching to the existence of the world around it. Smells, tastes, sights, touches, sounds. All interruptions, to which we been taught to feel the need to acknowledge and act upon. Our brain is alive. For 9 months, we were awake while silent. I imagine it to be the most blissful time of our lives. But now, we are plagued. Plagued by society, family, phones, bills, tasks. All of which need our urgent attention. Now we refuse to be silent when awake.

Amidst all of this overdose of existence is this artist who gave one of the most brilliant performances in my opinion. A performance of doing nothing, except being present. A powerful, yet simple statement, to a world in which everyone is busy living their own lives, being interrupted at every turn, trying to keep everything in order, establishing harmony amongst the chaos shoved at us.

The documentary captured not only the artists efforts in her performance, but also the audience who became a part of it, one at a time, by spending time in front of her sitting on a chair face-to-face in a space separating themselves from the rest of humanity with unbounded amount of time. In the time the audience spent with her, the artist, they both projected into and onto each other. Sitting still. The only words exchanged were through facial expressions and eye contact.

As a third person watching this through a camera, I observed two notable phenomena. The first was that, a lot of people shed tears in the seat facing the artist. Without personal physical experience I can only speculate what most people may have felt in that position. A reflection of themselves maybe? Something calm, something painful, something missing from themselves, or maybe something unforgivable about themselves. May be something money can’t buy, what others can never give, lack of success, lack of love, lack of serenity. Each individual audience must have seen a multitude of the above in their own lives through the posture and gestures of the artist. That, to me, is most certainly powerful art.

My second observation was that true love breaks all boundaries. When the artist originally set out to perform, her intent was to not break the performance until the end, under any circumstance. And it did look like no mountain would move her, until she was confronted with the one she truly had loved. Someone who had walked with her in the sand with in the past and had now parted ways. May be it’s true what they say: True love also lies in letting go of the other when the time comes to it. Because when that person walked toward and sat in front of her, at first, there was surprise, then there was happiness, followed by pain, and overwhelming unconfined joy which resulted in a break from the performance and a deviation from the norm offered to others. And the feeling was mutual on both ends.

To put a bow on it, I would say it is important that we spend time reflecting on ourselves without being interrupted and pulled into other matters. Only through silence and self reflection can one find a path to serenity. 

I too yearn for both serenity and true love, and this article gives me a chance to reflect on myself as I write it up. May be I should experiment on a few colloquail occasions with potential life partners, the power of silence, reflection, and projection.

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