Kristina Buch “untitled (holes)” at Kölnischer Kunstverein
Amongst the secret spiritual teachings of Tibet, the school of a mystical dance is mentioned. This dance is learned over the duration of many years, whilst the dance itself only lasts three minutes. During the long period, the person who practices the dance must become one with his every move so that the time of the movement becomes cosmic and that its duration would become eternal – eternity of staying in Sansara. After years of practicing this dance, it is only performed once, in complete solitude on a high place in the Tibetan Plateau where the bodies of the deceased are left to the birds and wild animals to be devoured. With the completion of this dance the time (rather its shape within consciousness) entirely shrinks and disappears. Also the dancer ceases to be as a human being in his carnal envelope; the envelope is still there, but the human being has left it — instead emptiness has moved inside it… From this point on, emptiness speaks in this human being and only emptiness is expressed through it.
To unite with the void proves to be a difficult task. This issue not only drives the refined minds in Tibet, but also a matured western mind, in particular the creative spirit, the contemporary spirit that is tired of the futile historical attempts to transform our earthly world into paradise; These have been long attempts, as long as the learning of the Tibetan dance.
But how can one step out of this dance of history?
In a virtual way and through the aid of a metaphor, art says!
Kristina Buch’s grandfather, who at the age of seventeen, stopped speaking for good, made music but was not a professional musician. For him, music was a means to grasp the world, himself and the sense of both, a way to understand himself as the world and to have a part in the world despite his silence. The grandfather wrote his work over years and years, and created a score made of small colourful drawings, words and only few musical notes, thus penetrating the temporal expansion of each passage, phrase and the cosmic nature of it, which only reveals itself through time. The goal of this long, all-consuming work was a masterpiece, but not a masterpiece for the ears and eyes, but for the soul; it should sound as the first and last sound in space and in its expansive nature. This grandfather had given himself this enormous task and Kristina, his granddaughter (not grandson!), handed the nearly forgotten material to the musician Iko Birk, so that he could approach the material with a musical interpretation. Kristina decreed that the work would be played once only and then to never be heard again – it has to bring to a halt itself and its time and the silence should not be eternally wounded. Kristina is an artist and a person with a spiritual gift. She realized that this task does not fall into the delineation of one discipline and that the musical form is only one condition amongst many others. If this musical form would be exchanged against the territory of presentations, one expands the immense idea of her grandfather. The work was performed on the 26th of February at Kölnischer Kunstverein. Iko Birk, who is less known for his technical virtuosity but rather for his spiritual penetration into the essence of music, played from the material that he had worked on over four years, on this evening one single time.
There were few tickets for this unique concert that were sold out on the internet in no time, so I could not attend. I also don’t know anybody who went and who witnessed this all-encompassing and all-transcending European version of the Tibetan dance. Now there was such an event and I missed it!
But! If there are no witnesses and no testimony, did this event happen at all? Did the grandfather exist in reality? Was the pianist real? And was the music real? If not, then this is just a subversive trick of contemporary art, which proves to us that not the shape and spatial characteristics are crucial, but that that the void can be discovered simply by a gesture. Perhaps it was really just an illusion which the artist Kristina Buch submerged us in and this deception is the shape of that weightless void that the people in Tibet so diligently and perseveringly effectuate. Maybe someone suceeded to place with this deception not a three kilo piece of art in our expectantly outstretched hands, but that, which it should ultimately gift us with – the liberating, exultant feeling of floating in the void, or simply the void! Where is the truth? But does it actually matter?
Photos: Sandra Then