There aren’t any topics or subjects that have not been, at least in some part of the world, the theme of an exhibition; and the most extravagant projects have become the most ordinary. In short, nothing surprises anyone anymore. And the one that I am going to propose here may have already been used, perhaps ten times, a hundred times, or maybe not at all. In any case, not to my knowledge.
In this world, we are constantly invaded by the sounds of engines and machines, and by other sounds such as shouts, orders, conversations and meetings, (sometimes by music, poetry or laughter), while moments of true silence are few and scarce. True silence. The type of silence when you only hear nature, including your own breathing, and the people you love.
The women and men of today, especially those who live and work in big cities, are fully aware of this, because they are crushed incessantly by the commotions of the world. Some people cannot exist without noises, which in essence mask their loneliness. In contrast, there are others who seek silence by any means: meditation, yoga, walking in the forest, and through other types of strategic ploys, including the frequent, understandable but yet pathetic strategy of isolating ourselves through headphones that broadcast some music or podcast. Or nothing.
In fact, music, which has always been ahead of the rest of the arts, as well as society, and it has always proposed, in a thousand ways, silence as an element in and of itself: “silence” has even become, in solfeggio, the equivalent of a musical note, which imposes itself in the interstices that it leaves in a score. We have even created a piece, in recent times, that is authentically made of silence: John Cage’s “4 minutes 33,” created in 1952, in which a pianist simply opened and closed the lid of a grand piano, and where we only heard the sounds of nature.
Today, we must go much further; and make silence a full moment in our lives. And in order to do that, I would like for us to value, emphasize, glorify, and be inspired by silence. Let us be carried away by it.
For starters, one could imagine that a large museum, somewhere in the world, could devote an exhibition to silence. First by demanding the silence of all visitors at all its exhibitions. Later, by going further and exposing nothing but silence, in a totally soundproof space, where one could walk around only barefoot. And with no telephone. Visitors would first be in a very uncomfortable situation, before finally listening to the sounds of their own bodies.
To continue this endeavour, one could imagine that a city could create a “night of silence,” (similar to the “Nuit Blanche” (sleepless night) concept), during which everyone would agree to be silent, both inside and in public places. No cars or public transportation. No words. No noises of any kind. No phones. Even in bars and restaurants, at home too. For half an hour, or an hour. A whole night. We would hear only the sounds of the wind in the trees, where there are trees. One would understand that silence does not mean doing nothing: in silence, one can meditate, write, paint, smile, eat, drink and love.
And when dawn returns, we may have all understood that noise is aggression; that silence does not mean loneliness and that we need it to appreciate the conversation and the company of others, words and music. It is similar to when we need to eat and enjoy a good meal when we have the means to afford it.
We would then comprehend that we need to isolate ourselves from all the sonic aggressions of the world to finally become ourselves and enjoy the happiness of others.