THE JUILLIARD EXPERIMENT
a film by Mark Kidel
“TRYING TO GET DOWN
TO A COMMON INSPIRATION
AND A COMMON LANGUAGE“
“Underneath the surface, there is almost a platonic truth that great artists find about the connection between the way we think and feel, and the way we express it. I like the thought of trying to get down to that, and seeing if there is a common language or a common inspiration underneath the form that each individual chooses to express it in, and I think we find that what Fabienne has done in her short time here, she’s found musicians and artists who are being stimulated by what she does, and certainly vice-versa.”
Joseph W. Polisi
“I believe deeply that the interaction of young artists with more mature artists, and in different fields, is only a positive experience for all parties. I think the more input that our young artists have, the better. And, looking at a work of art from a different perspective, which is happening now with Fabienne’s work, has allowed our young artists to think in ways that they never did before – and of course, for young artists, it’s not only providing them with a process, but teaching them how to engage in that process.”
Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Joseph W. Polisi
President, The Juilliard School
“ONE NEEDS TO TRAVEL
FOR ONE’S MIND TO BRUSH UP
AGAINST AND BE POLISHED
BY THE THINKING OF OTHERS.”
Montaigne’s words come to life for me as I tell this “traveler’s tale.” For, ironically, my residency at the Juilliard School was transformed into a journey. You allowed me to discover that a painter could apply her brush to the piano, the saxophone, or the voice ; that she could perhaps even blend her palette with an orchestral score.
After John Cage’s very intimidating 4 minutes 33 seconds of silence, or Marcel Duchamps’ famous Fountain, it is still possible to create. Man’s abiding need to express his sensibility and to approach the world and the things that surround him in a spirit of adventure cannot be taken away from him. In the future, artists will be able to create only if they dare to confront new challenges, only if, in this spirit of adventure, they initiate encounters such as have not previously been approached between the arts, thus illustrating the possibility of inhabiting the world poetically.
I had the good fortune to be invited, as an artist, to enter the heart of a talent pool of the most gifted musicians. I came to understand, working with you, that one must first learn to disengage from the self in order to think differently. Moreover, numerous artists have demonstrated the need for such a departure from self, the need for an obsessive sort of thinking against the self, to discover unexplored territories. I realized, there too, that to enter into an encounter with others, one first has to leave oneself behind. In other words, to put oneself at risk. This is Hölderlin’s contention : “But where danger lies, salvation grows too.”
This is something I had already experienced when I traveled to China, not long after the Cultural Revolution, to study and work with the last of the master painters. In the course of those ten years, I had to abandon many of my conditioned responses, in order to immerse myself in a radically different world and way of thinking. This encounter profoundly changed my perception of the world, and even my way of painting. During the months of my Juilliard residency, I had to rise to a similar challenge : how to implement a dialogue between music and painting, between the line of sound and the line of picture, where one would not be subservient to the other, but where, on the contrary, an “interplay” would produce a spontaneous concomitance, a spontaneity that expresses a certain facet of life and that is an essential constituent of both music and painting. In the course of our work sessions, we observed that it was possible to communicate without recourse to words, but rather via abstract forms that seemed to emerge directly from experience and from memory. When on these “journeys,” I often thought of Schumann, who claimed he could understand and even converse, through music, between two silences.
More broadly, I was able to note that musicians not only listen, they see ; that the painter not only looks, but listens. As the eye listens, so too the ear can see. This possible but oft-doubted synchronism between music and painting was thus at the heart of our experimentation.