Minimalism was the mainstream in art at the time that de Cointet was working in LA. Everybody was ‘cutting their teeth’ on it, as Susan Martin says in my film. McCarthy, Stoerchle, and Kelley were trying to move away from the dogmatic figures of the ‘specific object’. Kelley says that he wanted to go against Larry Bell. Baldessari and the ‘CalArts Mafia’ created a space for new experiments too.
Besides this minimalism influence, one can discern a Baroque dimension in de Cointet’s work. We can think about the balcony used in his play Ramona, which is a kind of ‘Roméo and Juliet’ display. Also think about his use of elliptical figures and of vertigo. There is a vertigo of the senses at work in Five Sisters, in which the five senses mix with five colors.
The Baroque style took its name from the Portuguese word ‘barrocco’, meaning ‘irregular pearl’. The figure of the pearl is present in the play Ethiopia (one of the characters’ stories is called ‘the Black Pearl of the Atlantic’). The practice of several minimal artists such as Bob Morris, Frank Stella or Larry Bell went towards Baroque’s forms, by moving out of the white cube, to put it bluntly. In Five Sisters the so-called ‘Mood Room’, to me, is the other side of the white cube, or the ‘inverted white cube’.
If we would stage Five Sisters in a white cube context today, the the characters will be like living figures coming out of the white cube, as if soap opera could create holograms of ‘forever young’ women, looking for the perfect doctor. Dr Faust has become Dr Brandt, Africa and the new god: sun still a worry, and vitamins a solution.
The actors would be ‘pop up figures coming off the wall’, but this wall has been receiving all the history of sculpture, from simulacrum to icons. Five Sisters should be created as a sculpture in movement, with the characters as ‘skiagrammes’ and ‘silhouettes’, their shadows changing colors, they are a fresco in movement, a film without film.