Shredded: Stuplimity and the Aesthetics of Neo-Liberalism

 

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“Gertrude and I are just the contrary”, writesLeo Stein in Journey into the Self. “She’s basically stupid and I’m basically intelligent.” So cites Sianne Ngai (Ugly Feelings) as she introduces her concept of ‘stuplimity’, playing around between the sublime and the stupid.

Stupidity, it would seem, has been greatly under-rated. And nowhere more so than in the motion, emotion and commotion of slapstick comedy, which is animated by its own particular zany stupidity. I Can Hardly Wait: Stuplimity and the Aesthetics of Neo-Liberalism is one of an ongoing series of short video performances calling upon the Three Stooges to explore/enact the aesthetics of stupidity, violence and, of course, stuplimity through the motions of slapstick comedy.

Today neo-liberalism animates every particle of our everyday life, politics and culture. It is so pervasive that we take its violence and cruelty for granted, as inevitable. While theorists like Alana Jelinek (This is Not Art) raise the important critical question of the aesthetic effects of neo-liberalism and how to confront them, as artists we feel the need to enact them. We set out to carry the aesthetics of neo-liberalism to the extreme, so they may be visible, audible, tangible. How better to ‘unmask’ these aesthetics than the slapstick of the Three Stooges whose surreal and farcical comedies depicted heads hammered, eyes poked, hands sawed, and other physical acts of force and power – beyond the bounds of commonsense. The Three Stooges understood the affect of humiliation and violence.

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