Stillness is monochrome?
The creative and the experiential space of the profound


Margit Preis is an impressive personality and difficult to describe. This is a paradoxical statement. A paradox is the concurrent existence of things that are mutually exclusive. Margit's nature is paradoxical in the sense that it is characterized by both stillness and movement, and she traverses this field of creative tension in increasingly determined and resolute ways. Her light nature seems to soar, and it can move at lightning speed but also pause. Margit's light nature also has a liberated quality, and encountering her engenders a comforting sense of liberation. This also applies to her art, in which she conveys this impression particularly through her work with ink and of course her dance.

There is a saying that creative people who are sustained by an inner melody set something in motion. Not only ink but also dance flows through the veins of Margit Preis. "At the bottom of my heart, I am a dancer." Everybody who perceives Margit's dance enjoys the gracefulness of her movements and also witnesses her remarkable feeling for rhythm as well as her sense of tact. The YouTube video of her performance "Tusche im Blut" [Ink in Blood] (2016) is highly recommended to all those who missed seeing her live.

The greatest possible approximation to the creative arises in the invisible experiential space of the profound. "In the creative, the origin becomes present." This is a key phrase of the poet and philosopher Jean Gebser. Margit Preis has always already faced the profound and thus remains receptive to its impulses. This is testified by her manifesto "The Hidden Realism", which she composed together with Dominik Dusek in 1999, as well as the remarkable variety of styles featured in her artistic works until the year 2012. Remember Christian Kniescheck's sentence: "Margit Preis lives and works in Vienna, and she is far too good to commit to just one style." [see full text]

Since this time, in my view the "hidden realism" has lost superficiality. Margit has penetrated deeper into the experiential space of the profound, traversing it with increasing resolution, and this has also affected her artistic work. The addition of dance and images conveys originality, since these are two forms of art that do not yet require language. At the same time, they are two elementary forms of human expressions that have served our communication long before language and writing have joined in. If we regard Margit's calligraphic works with ink, then figures arise before our eyes which resemble the characters of Asian scripts. One immediately thinks of a text and wonders about its meaning. However, there is no alphabet to decode Margit's work. Yet these figures, which have arisen from Margit's light nature, have something to tell us. They appeal to us. Margit herself speaks not of figures, but of "beings" who take shape through ink and her quick brushwork – statements by every single being for itself as well as all beings together that have gathered on the sheet of paper or the canvas. The image base is a limited and at the same time open plane for the unspeakable and unbounded. Images and the dancing body can convey an impression of this.

In Greek antiquity, the choir was originally a circumscribed place for dancing. The word 'choreography' is derived from two ancient Greek words with the meaning of dance and writing. Margit's calligraphy conveys the impression of floatation and movement, the beings of which seem to pause for just a moment. With careful consideration, they continue to float and move. Margit's calligraphic works with ink are essentially choreographies of the ever-present profound nature.

Margit Preis spoke of "dance writing" already in 2016. In the performance "Ink in Blood," this was the source of inspiration for a composition by Shuufuku Philipp Ueki. Margit allowed the music of Ueki to flow through her body, thus giving a dance-like expression to her painted beings. The sounds returned the characters (beings) to the body and became the movement, the dance and the event in which the audience took part. Dance puts into practice that which is perceived in the peace and stillness of the attentive mind. Margit Preis has many years of experience in meditation and Buddhist practices. "Split a cherry tree | and you will find no blossoms. | Yet the spring breeze | brings forth myriads of blossoms." These words of the poet and Zen master Ikkyû Sôjun (15th century), who had also painted with ink, deeply correspond to Margit's light nature. For her calligraphy she uses Japanese inksticks, which are composed of soot as a coloring agent and organic glue as binding material. The pressed and dried inkstick is dissolved with water on a rubbing stone. This process itself has a meditative character, and to Margit this acts as a ritual for collecting the mind. The ink is prepared by silently adding water, and then it is put on paper or canvas in rapid motion. These movements are like the rustling of leaves in the wind, which complements the silence of the forest. Margit Preis listens deeply into the forest and expresses what has been heard there through her painting and dance.

The forest is the symbol for and the profound space of an experience of stillness and movement. From the perspective of depth psychology, the forest is an equivalent of the unconscious. According to C.G. Jung, the unconscious, in its vastness and depth, embraces our consciousness like a clearing. The nourishing sources and life-streams of the profound are concretely experienced by us as places of regeneration, for example, in forests. The forest, with its healing silence and the rustling of leaves in the wind, plays an important role in the life and art of Margit Preis. She loves to roam the forest, especially the one on Cobenzl. This is her favorite sanctuary, where she has also found an appropriate place for her latest work: a collaboration with the London-based Indian choreographer Saju Hari and the musicians Günther Bosek, Shuufuku Ueki and Tim Preis. Their dance performance and exhibition is entitled: Stillness is monochrome? This is the question Margit Preis and Saju Hari raise to us - not by means of language but through dance, music and images, all of which are among those art forms that touch us most directly. On July 20, 2018, Margit's light nature will meet a space in the marble hall of Cobenzl Castle with an atmosphere that raises a silent pleasure for "Stillness is monochrome?". A felt sense of the creative at the interfaces of stillness and movement is meaningful. Thus, we are invited to attend an original experience and share it with Margit Preis.

Elmar Schübl
Vienna, June 2018

Translation by Dennis Johnson

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