Turning outside in….


The Svan. Artist: Hilma af Klint

Turning outside in….

Director Ignaz Anderson in the annual report 2012:

In 2012 we were confronted with boundaries. Worldwide people casted a worried glance at the Maya calendar and wondered if 21-12-12 would mark the end of times for planet earth. Forty years ago the Club of Rome warned us about the limitations of growth. The Earth Charter that made us attentive to our moral boundaries exists already for twenty years.
This year again we were confronted with the fact that we are exhausting our resources; with our intolerance and incapability to co-operate; with the fact that mankind and society are too self-centred. Although some may say that this is a defeatist way of thinking.
But are there, by now, not enough new (technological) possibilities to act in a sustainable and socially responsible manner? And to legitimise this in a transparent way?

Organisations concerned with education, health care, agriculture and food are embedded in complex systems that do not easily allow renewal. In essence innovation demands independence and free space. 
Social renewal can be prepared in the private incubators of foundations. Moreover, most foundations were put into use to make free action possible.
Change and innovation are often preceded by a feeling of discontent: things should be done differently, but how? A positive aspect of crisis can be that it make us appeal to our imagination and demands us to look past the limitations of our own possibilities. We have to ask ourselves new questions. Is there another space, perhaps another perception of time?  And can we learn to relate to this? Can I turn all these outside problems inside? And what does the outside space look like inside of me? Can I perhaps remember the future? And: what should I do right now?

This kind of turning point thinking is necessary, since we have reached boundaries, even those of time and space. The Dutch economist Herman Wijffels talked about the ‘best-before date’ of systems. Is this a disaster? No, apparently limitations of time and space offer us useful resistance. Past year the Dutch scientist, artist and director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (USA) Robbert Dijkgraaf clarified  the boundaries of space for us in two television lectures about the greatest and the smallest. Did we, in 2012, discover the tiniest God-particle (Higgs boson), which can explain the cohesion of it all? Is this the limit or can we get beyond?

In June 2012 director Pierre Audi and set designer Anish Kapoor created a performance of  Turning the world upside down. Artist: Anish KapoorWagner’s Parsifal for the Netherlands Opera. A staging that played with space and experiencing limitations. We heard Parsifal sing; ‘….here time becomes space’. Mysterious and recognisable words! Listening within ourselves can, past the silence, create a time of inner space experience. It seems that the clock has stopped for a moment and in a flash, as in a dream, we are capable to cross distances and times. In their legendary song The sound of silence Simon and Garfunkel create silence from a conversation with darkness, an ‘old friend’. They experience the limitation of a boundary ’….I saw/ten thousand people, maybe more/people talking without speaking/people hearing without listening’ …. A heart- searching for silence; silence as a creative origin, as the Source (1).

Let us return to the free space. Room where the space-in between can emerge, where under tension something new announces itself. In the words of the artist Piet Mondriaan: ‘The dialogue that can become a trialogue’.

In the spring of 2012 we organised a dialogue journey to Israel and Palestine, guided by cultural philosopher Christine Gruwez. There we experienced again and again how hard it is to keep the middle in a contradiction, without letting yourself to be drawn by one of the extreme points of view. Keeping yourself upright is almost impossible. Tiny rays of hope are initiatives like Tent of Nations, where in the middle of tension, as a turning point, a third element emerges: 'We refuse to be enemies!'. A connecting force in a torn society.
In previous year reports we called this a centripetal force, or a religious dimension of life, which enables us to handle the necessary limitations of time and space with more imagination. The space between the other and myself, which can be moved by the future, already present in our feeling.

When you have lost something, you turn your pockets inside out, hoping to bring it to light. The search, as described above, asks for a double turn: inside out and outside in. Or vice versa.
Markus Brüderlin, director of the Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg, has- like the artists Wassily A centre. Artist: Wassily KandinskiKandinsky, Joseph Beuys and Anish Kapoor – explored the interaction between spirit and matter; subject and object; inside out and the turning point in between. (2) Brüderlin considers Rudolf Steiner a key figure. As does the German Vitra Design Museum in its impressive exhibition: Rudolf Steiner, the Alchemy of the Everyday.

What does this alchemy contain? On the one hand it is about making the invisible inspiration that lives in us visible in our work. On the other hand it asks us to absorb the fragmented truth of our society in all its complexity and to resolve it. In this way we can experience and become aware of the essence and the interdependence outside of space and time and inside ourselves.
The Kunsthal in Rotterdam will show Rudolf Steiner, the Alchemy of the Everyday in the winter of 2013. A more inspiring aid for turning outside in cannot be desired.

1. Joseph Jaworski. Source: The Inner Path of Knowledge Creation, 2012
2. Markus Brüderlin. Du musst Dein Leben umstülpen! Rudolf Steiner und das moderne Prinzip des Inside Out.