“Intellect” and “Beauty” in the Contemporary Performing Arts
As I recall, it was in a new book about contemporary art that I happened to buy last year that I came across Marcel Duchamp’s statement that painting should be intellectual, that it is not enough for painting to be simply visual or retinal, leading to the belief that contemporary art need not necessarily be beautiful, which oddly made a lot of sense to me. Because I thought this tendency is also applicable to the performing arts.
The following are the random thoughts of someone who specializes in historical research about noh and kyogen, which I hope you will keep in mind as you read, but what Duchamp calls “intellect” surely refers to outward-looking “assertion” about society and the times. Having reigned supreme until now, he is saying, the time has come for “beauty” to abdicate the throne. This, needless to say, is a demand of the contemporary society and era, but be that as it may, what then happened to that “beauty” after it passed the throne to “intellect” and “assertion”? In my opinion, in the case of the contemporary performing arts, centering as it does on “assertion,” that previous “beauty” is already revived as the expression underlying the “assertion,” as, for instance, wit or satirical “playfulness.”
For its thirteenth edition, Kyoto Experiment explores the idea of “new teku teku.” This connotes an aspiration to think “walkingly” about how we consider those forms of expression that underlie “assertion” in the performing arts in the future.
Chair, Kyoto International Performing Arts Festival Executive Committee