In the world of artistic discussions performance has been considered an experiential artistic work because with every performance of a piece the piece changes and takes on new character. I have always loved that about staged art, no matter how many times you see it, each time is unique. So the questions of artistic value for a performance become divided based on whether you are trying to analyze the creation of the original idea or that of the current interpretation. The problem with revisiting the classical works is that the original idea is not necessarily preserved to the creator’s specifications, then again Barthes that might not be a problem.Thinking a little bit about the intensely complicated issues that were only briefly described above I have had the enjoyment of listening to Evgeny Kissin at Carnegie Hall. He is no composer and therefore is not a creator of musical compositions and yet has been credited as one of the most talented artist playing piano today. This is an interesting form of art if you really look at it, yes it is easy to define him as an artist but the way he is “creating” art is not necessarily in the tangible world. The pieces he performed are credited to others, to the composers who first wrote them. It can be compared to how a copy artist might practice his trade by painting the work of a great master. However that comparison fails to recognize the performance aspects of staged art. Though the copy artist will add his own take to the painting, the ultimate goal is to make it look like the original. A better example would be that of Picasso who recreated Velázquez’s Las Meninas in his own style. Kissin isn’t appreciated because he sounds like everyone thinks the piece should but rather because of his phenomenal talent to do what ever he wants with the piano. His hands can be anywhere, his timing is flawless and his style is unique.
He is an athlete of the art world and just as the art of athletic performance can be valued in its own way; his ability has the artistic potential in his movement, in his sound, and in his style.
So is this a different way to look at the arts? Can we judge an artist for his talent in the field? Can this form of art be considered a revival of the talent driven art of the salons? And what about the Dadaist who will consider this nothing more than a copy? Beyond any question or answer that can be conceived the reality in my opinion is that the creativity needed here is more hidden and harder to define than with an artist in the traditional sense, and yes in this sense I am including the Dadas in the category of traditional since they were creating. It’s a creativity that is in the way a piece is interpreted, in essence perhaps the best comparison is to a translator. In literature a translator is creating her own interpretation of the work of art and is therefore cultivating a new art work in the simple fact that the words change. Since it is not a one to one relationship between two languages, it is far from that as Saussure defined for us in the beginning of the 20th century. And in finding the best way to make that interpretation, a new work of art is born, and the translator becomes an artist. The same is happening here. In Kissin’s interpretation of how the notes on paper and the markings associated with them should be converted into sounds we hear. That conversion is creation and Kissin, the artist.