Curated by writer, academic, and playwright Jane Taylor, Season 4 of The Centre for the Less Good Idea takes the shape of a Collapsed Conference – a series of talks, presentations and ideas all told through performance.
GOODBYE | Michikazu Matsune
What do we gain by playing witness to the loss of others? Is it sadness or sympathy we feel when hearing another person saying goodbye to someone or something they love, or is it relief or fear that our own goodbyes are behind us, or still to come?
Goodbye, performance-artist and choreographer Michikazu Matsune’s work for Season 4 of The Centre for the Less Good Idea, is full of parting words, primarily told through goodbye letters from across the globe. Some are written in anger, others are written from a place of deep sadness, and many of them contain a profound way of thinking about our relationships to people, places, and objects in the world through the simple act of saying goodbye.
All of these parting words are read out by Matsune who, seated at a desk containing only a pile of letters and a clock, manages to construct a gripping performance out of a charmingly simple act – the slow cutting open of the envelope, the dry crinkling of paper being unfolded, and the quick, courteous clearing of the throat serve as a brilliant entrance to each story.
There are letters from a cancer patient to her long and soon-to-be-lost hair, a mother giving her daughter away to the constructions and ideals of marriage, and an acerbic resignation letter from a disgruntled, but liberated employee. A letter from a Kamikaze pilot to his children is prosaic in its content, but harrowing when considering its context. Stories about Matsune’s own farewell to his first car or to his parents are at once personal and universal.
Watching a performance such as this one involves a difficult negotiation between vulnerability and voyeurism, empathy and remorse. Much of Matsune’s work is concerned with these relationships between emotional and factual statements and their inherent affective meaning. His practice employs criticality and playfulness in equal measure to examine the body and the object, action and language, place and behaviour. What better way to tease out and interrogate these notions, than through of a series of farewell letters sourced from individuals across time and place?
As much of Season 4’s work proves, some stories can only find full meaning when run through the confines of other mediums, and Matsune makes good use of popular music as well as humour, dance, and performance to convey the themes present in Goodbye.
Animateur for The Centre | Bronwyn Lace
Cinematography and Editor | Noah Cohen
Project Manager | Shruthi Nair
Lights | Wesley France and Guy Nelson
Sound | SoulFire Studios and Zain Vally
Stage Management | Hayleigh Evans and PopArt Productions
Writer | Dave Mann