Mineki Murata

Mineki Murata: No Comments, performance at PS Squared, Belfast, 13 April 2013

Rarely, a performance has a clean beginning and end. By clean, I mean not polluted by hesitancy of theatrical or political statement.  On a table a pristine hard copy of a book, cover removed. In hand a stylus with a sharp end. A body. A voice. A repetitive movement. Energy. Duration fitting exactly a chosen idea.

photo by Shiro Masuyama

Murata offered a masterpiece, a quality I witnessed with a few of the Fluxus artists, and once with Dominic Thorpe.

photo by Shiro Masuyama

Gently opening the book, he circled the stylus on a page until he penetrated the paper, continuing page after page until the last one. The beginning was slower, benign, accompanied by a murmur. I thought of children playfully scribbling over printed pages, innocent of the destruction they caused. He removed that possible meaning very soon. By increasing the speed, by frantically thrashing the book into smithereens, and the stronger volume of his voice,  something between a combat cry and a complaint.

photo by Shiro Masuyama

The increase in speed and volume brought in the meaning of the battle with the book. Either, because he could not master it for good use in his life, or because his anger or hatred had prevented that. Both lines were perceivable, underlined by his exhaustion from the sheer physical effort that ended only after there was no page untouched.

Paradoxically, the damaged book morphed into a beautiful object of randomly distributed shards of paper sticking out from the book’s spine.

photo by Shiro Masuyama

I have seen that book in its cover. It was an Oxford English Dictionary.  I could not erase that from the context. I became aware of questions about dislike of the role of English as a language used by numerous cultures, including its overwhelming influence on other languages due to the computing terminology. For example: Windows is “translated” into the  Czech language as  windowsy to mark the plural by added -y- revealing that the plural in the English original stays unrecognised. Nevertheless, the “titanic”  character of the invincible dictionary revealed a greater issue. A human being consumed by conflict, anger, hubris. On the visible level, the book changed its appearance and could be a reason to proclaim the man’s victory. On the other, the remnants of the printed treasure became a fragile, butterfly like gentle phenomenon, a work of art in itself.  The duality of a work of art (performance) making a work of art ( a paper sculpture) – against the might of the angry fighting man, not only steals his victory, but points to his blasphemy, arrogance, absence of respect where it is  expected.

And it took only the time it took in a superb economy of means. The freedom of aesthetic value to govern the  structure and duration of a performance makes rare appearances in contemporary art, as does such powerfully formulated  fateful relationship between our will and the constellation of conditions for our being in the world.

photo by Shiro Masuyama

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