I’m convinced there is no such thing as minimalism. I can’t think of an example in any art form that is convincingly ‘minimal’ to me. Works that usually fall into this category scream fetish at me—an elaborately enforced silence, an elaborately enforced stillness, an elaborately enforced sheen, an elaborately enforced pose. And exposed in each of those ‘enforcements’ is ‘force’. I feel space (of the page, of the gallery, of the concert hall) become impacted by these requirements, solid as a tooth in the jaw. Language usually also packs this ‘emptied’ space like infected bone. Moreover, ‘restraint’ and ‘constraint’ always seem to produce or reveal ‘strain’.
My favorite example of ‘restraint’ not producing minimalism is Matthew Barney’s Drawing Restraints. Already deeply in debt to Jack Smith among other sources, Barney makes an absolute expenditure of withholding; his restraint from drawing implodes into acts of wild costume, gesture, texture, insertion, extrusion, multiphilia.
A secondary language of minimalism is the economy of spaces and contexts in which it appears: bank lobbies, bank plazas, the middle of carefully cleaned white pages, under magazine laminate, hissing from the microphone in the acoustical hall. All these environments and adornments and contexts amount to a secondary ‘language’ of minimalism which is the opposite of absence. The tertiary language of minimalism: money. As we all know from ‘shelter’ magazines, it costs a lot to look like you don’t own anything at all. In the case of ‘minimalist’ writing (what is this anyway? writing that uses few words? few lines?) context is the fee.