Mathilde Rosier, "Body and Soil" video still (2019). Courtesy of the artist
May 5, 2020

A Room with a View: Mathilde Rosier on her isolation experience

"A Room with a View" is a new editorial initiative which aims to illuminate the positive and creative potential of time spent in isolation. The eight contribution comes from French artist Mathilde Rosier
Words by Mathilde Rosier

Dear My Art Guides Readers,

My rooms are looking out into a field. Today I was recording a podcast episode for ECHOLOT, the podcast channel of Muzeum Susch and Art Stations Foundation CH. The subject was “Stillness & Motion”.

Stillness is defined by the absence of motion and the absence of noise. Why defining stillness as a negative term, as something so indescribable that it can only be defined by what it is not? And to think of it as the opposite of movement or sound might be misleading. There is no stillness without movement, they only exist as a pair. Stillness in itself is either in the aftermath or in preparation of a motion, of a sound. Stillness is also a sound in itself, a significant silence, a presence rather than an absence.

Would you agree, that stillness is a choice? That it can be felt as a presence in our body but also as a presence in a world moving around us? There is an active stillness, profoundly vivid. The ballet of heavy machines in perpetual motion bringing in the harvest, crowns of wheat bending to the wind, touched by hands or machines…

The vegetal world is fond of motion, there is rarely moments of complete stillness. Among plants, the absence of one motion is increasing the presence of the other more subtle ones, usually hidden under the more dramatic movements and sounds.

Stillness has to be seen as a form of resilience, resistance, rebellion. Nothing is more subversive.

Stillness and motion talk about rhythm, the rhythm of Nature, we lost the rhythm. We believe only in motion as a life force and we are actually dying from this belief. Generally, stillness is associated with death, final stillness. Still-life as in painting is also referred to as nature morte in French – nature killed. There is a necessity to rehabilitate stillness as a life force of equal importance as motion, to find the right rhythm, in concordance with the physiological rhythms of the earth and the body. Not to mention the cosmic rhythm on which we also rely.

Tacet is the musical term to indicate to a performer that the instrument is to be silent: a Violin Tacet; the violin is not to play. A unique usage of this term is in John Cage’s 1952 composition 4′33″. A tacet is indicated for all three movements, for all instruments. The piece’s first performance lasted a total of 4 minutes and 33 seconds, without a note being played. This experience of stillness was also emphasizing our absolute obedience to time.

Stillness has to be seen as a form of resilience, resistance, rebellion. Nothing is more subversive.


Notes from the artist: Tune in on 1 June to listen to episode 4 in the podcast series ‘Stillness & Motion’ on ECHOLOT – a podcast channel by Muzeum Susch and Art Stations Foundation CH. In ‘Stillness is a sound’, I will be sharing my thoughts on stillness and motion in action and non-action.

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