September 14

Since I will be away and you will be working on Quick and Dirty, I wanted to provide you with a few things to have a look at. Hopefully they might inform (and entertain) your projects.

I hope to get these PDFs up on CourseLink soon too.

To read:
Avital Ronell, “The Uninterrogated Question of Stupidity”
(From differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 8:2 [Summer 1996], pp. 1-19.)

David Jenemann, “Stupider and Worse: The Cultural Politics of Stupidity”
(From Parallax, 19:3, 2013, pp. 34-49.)

To watch:
Martin Creed, Thinking / Not Thinking (Work-1090) (official version)
(3 minutes)

Martin Creed, Thinking / Not Thinking (live version)
(the one we watched in class)

Fischli/Weiss, Der Lauf der Dinge, 1987
(30 minutes)

Jørgen Leth, 66 Scenes from America (excerpt), 1984
0:42:00 (excerpt is 4:27)


Welcome to Stupidity

In the age of the smartphone, what does it mean to be stupid? Alongside an increase of information and widespread access to knowledge, stupidity has become a central thematic of investigation in contemporary art. Embracing uncertainty, failure, illegibility, risk, doubt, indecision, and the incomplete, artists have re-claimed and recuperated the notion of stupidity as a profound act of refusal against the economic and political pressures of our current time.

This course will provide a survey of contemporary artworks that thematize stupidity, and challenge students to analyze the material, cultural, and political contexts that have given rise to this subject today. Through studio work, discussions, readings, and critiques, students will consider topics such as the fool, the ‘drop out’, the counterculture figure, class, intellectualism, elitism, clichés and received ideas, high and low culture, insider and outsider art, identity politics, and various forms of legitimate and illegitimate knowledge. Stupidity is everywhere; it is truly cross-disciplinary. As such students are encouraged to use any media and form for their ‘stupid’ studio work. Together, we will work through visual histories, current events, films, popular culture, and a collection of artist writings, short stories, essays, fictional works, manifestos, and theoretical and critical readings.

Paul McCarthy, Santa Clause with Plug, Middelheimmuseum
Paul McCarthy, Santa Clause with Plug, Middelheimmuseum