November 22, 2022

Minimalism: The end of a character?

Minimalism is the art movement which commenced post World War II, in visual arts and design, architecture, fashion, music, film, literature and other media. The movement became prominent in Western art of the 1960s and 1970s, even though the term "minimalist" has been used since the early 20th century. Minimalism quintessentially describes any object, work of art, visual and sonic information, even software that has been stripped to its essentials. It is defined as a style in which the simplest and fewest elements possible are utilised to create a functional and pleasant environment while simultaneously removing extra noise and distractions from all aspects of life. That includes using clean lines, uncomplicated designs and scenery, simple, muted colours, and generally uncluttered designs and plans.

Although minimalism can admittedly assist one establish a smooth, meaningful space so that time and energy can be dispensed purposefully, the following question is raised: If we spare all our physical surroundings and mental or emotional stimuli of their more complex elements, are we not depriving them of their identity? Consequently, are we not stripping our own selves of character, considering that our idiosyncrasy plays an important role in the way we model and consume our surroundings and vice versa?

By prioritising functionality and practicality, even in situations when there is no reason for those to be precedent, we are inevitably sacrificing individuality and uniqueness. Although simplicity can be truly beautiful and calming, it is not a great match for everything. Art, films, music, architecture and fashion more often than not need to be complex, particularly for the audience to figure out or just notice, observe, draw their own conclusions and feel the catharsis that comes with this delicate process. We have turned all our surrounding areas into soulless, geometrical structures. There is very little to nothing for the eye to glide on, to discover and examine as a diversion from an otherwise monotonous, tiresome reality. Reality itself instead of flourishing, turns stagnant and so do the people living in it.

So, we have also turned into dull, one-dimensional beings with shallow appreciation for spirit, temperament. It is as if we have been trained to be apathetic towards minutiae that render all realms of expression and existence intriguing, beautiful and liberating, focusing on mundane goals only. All facets of everyday life become intentional. Spontaneity fades away slowly but surely and is looked down on. Everything looks similar and feels sterile and trite, from each praised, overworn garment to each frame from another overrated movie.

There is a scene in a movie that I find profoundly moving where Justine, the main character who suffers from a form of severe depression, during her wedding night and in a visibly distressed mental state, hides away in a room of the manor where the reception is held. In that room, she deliriously replaces the modern, cold, geometrical artworks in the pages of books decorating the walls, with pictures of classic paintings, saturated with a sense of futility and replete with colours and infinite details, lingering there quietly to be perceived, interpreted, appreciated and felt.

The movie is “Melancholia” by Lars von Trier and the aforementioned allusion, in the span of only a few minutes, manages to immaculately convey what I have been awkwardly trying to explain in this article. Once again, the cinema comes to the rescue and this absurd epilogue is vague as it is intentional…

Translation: Vasiliki Lamprou

Vicky Georgiadou (she/her)

Zoned out and overthinking since ’01. Currently studying at the Rural and Surveying Engineering Department of the Engineering School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Occasional writer, regular reader. Addicted to b-movies and cult classics, poetry, classic literature, architecture, and satellites, maybe gin and tonic as well. You can find her in Engineering School during winter, usually looking for the cat that lives there, and at some open-air cinema during summer. Knows how to read a Turkish coffee cup and that’s pretty much the most interesting thing about her.

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