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click opera - Lies, damned lies, and Darwin tours
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Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 01:11 pm
Lies, damned lies, and Darwin tours



As lawyers, bankers and lots of other professionals know, lying for a living is nice work if you can get it. Here's a clip of my unreliable tour yesterday of the Schirn Kunsthalle's Darwin exhibition -- part of the Playing the City programme.

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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)

A nice crowd!

Could you give a genealogy for this tour guide thing?

I can't help seeing it, at the moment, as situationist tactics tamed, defanged. A verbal detournement. Fun if nothing else.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 05:02 pm (UTC)

Whether it's in the books I've been writing or these tours, I'm toiling humbly in the tipsy vineyard of tall talers like Lucian - Aesop - Leopardi - Schwob - Borges - Calvino. As a specific art world thing, though, it gets described as "Relational Aesthetics" (Tino Sehgal was also in this Playing the City show, and Rirkrit Tiravanija, two big names in Relational Aesthetics). Different eras have called it different things; in the late 80s and early 90s Andrea Fraser was doing stuff like this and calling it Institutional Critique. My view is that you can't call it that when the institution is sponsoring it. It's more like "poetry in the workplace" projects, actually -- like when a company appoints a storyteller-in-residence.

Edited at 2009-04-27 05:03 pm (UTC)


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)

Marcel Schwob and Giacomo Leopardi?

Thanks!


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 03:25 am (UTC)

This descending jagged red line is the beginning of a smile on the face of a flexible creative worker living on their wits accentuated by the curl of a (dole) queue.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 02:18 pm (UTC)

I've been reading Nathaniel Hawthorne's stories extensively for the first time, and I'm amazed by how much he predates or anticipates twentieth-century (post?)modernism--worthy of adding to the list above. Just after watching the unreliable tour guide above, I read "P's Correspondence" from Tales from an Old Manse, in which the narrator conjectures an alternative universe for several literary and political figures of the recent past: Byron, for instance, ends up not in Missolonghi but becomes old and fat and gouty, writing conservative diatribes; meanwhile, Napoleon wanders lost and paranoid in the streets of London. It would be interesting to see what Hawthorne might have done with Darwin, had he lived long enough!

Dorothy


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)

To think they fought to the bitter end and all the winner sporned was a lousy ureliable tour guide desperate to be an"Artist" and ending up a stand up comic. Better luck next time Momus. When you doing the comedy store?. I can see the Sacha Baron Cohen influence coming through by the way.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)

Comedy is one of the greatest art forms. Do you watch Reeves and Mortimer and find yourself saying, 'I can see the Robert Filliou influence coming through'?

Or maybe you just have a moment of clarity and attempt to see beyond all those unhelpful artificial boundaries.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)

"Do you watch Reeves and Mortimer and find yourself saying, 'I can see the Robert Filliou influence coming through'?"

No, I watch Reeves and Mortimer and think how on earth did they get a TV show. Besides I like to distinguish my Artists from my comedians although I might love both in equal measures.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)

I apologise for the adversarial tone of my last comment, and I think that there is an interesting discussion here.

This isn't a loaded question; but why is it that you distinguish your artists from your comedians? What is the value of that boundary for you?


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)

The boundary is there, I merely acknowledge it. Some people may choose not to acknowledge it, that is their choice. How many people do you see rolling around on the floor laughing in front of a Picasso? I haven't seen any, so far. Comedians are out to make us laugh that is how they measure their success. An Artist scope is far wider encompassing all emotions, it can sometimes make us smile but not really laugh out loud.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 09:45 pm (UTC)

I think the boundary is a construct, along with the term 'comedian' and 'artist'; ways of categorizing experience. It is worth, once in a while, questioning these terms, if for no other reason than to avoid becoming mindless to their use. They can, after all, significantly affect the way we view our world.

Comedians can also stimulate our imagination (i'm thinking Vic & Bob again), show us ways of living, of interacting; they can politicize us (Charlie Brooker, and his thinly veiled rants); amongst other things.

It excites me when these boundaries (which mother Earth didn't place there for us) become blurred, especially when it comes to comedy and art.

By the way, which Picasso? And under what circumstances?


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)

All experience is categorized that is human nature. Otherwise we venture into madness. I think rather than worrying about it we should except the terms for what they are and enjoy the "comedy" or 'Art" for what it is without tedious distractions. It's only life after all. I can honestly say I've never seen any blurred boundary between a piece of Art that could be comedy or vice versa. Comedy can achieve all the things you mention I don't dispute that but it's eventual aim is to make you laugh.

Any Picasso, we're never likely to see one outside a gallery environment unless you have very rich friends, I don't.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 10:03 am (UTC)

And what if making you laugh is the secondary aim? What if the comedian himself isn't aware of his real 'aim'?


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)

That look is either Lynn Redgrave in "Georgy Girl" or Rita Tushingham in "A Taste of Honey." Howsoever, I enjoyed this ultra-altermodern standup/falldown comedy schtick!

The Extinct Dodo


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lord_whimsy
lord_whimsy
whimsy
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 02:37 pm (UTC)

So Nick: How much of this is on the fly, and how much is cooked up before the fact?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 04:56 pm (UTC)

I took a quick look round the show on Saturday and made a page of notes, with basic scenarios and stopping points worked out. In the heat of the moment, of course, I embroidered some new details in, but also forgot some of the best lines -- I was going to do a whole thing about how Darwin had reversed "ontogeny repeats phylogeny", discovering that when an individual discovers a new hobby, he condemns all future generations to have that hobby -- he changes, in other words, his species irrevocably. But I had enough on my hands negotiating the rooms in such a way that the other tours (the "reliable" ones) didn't clash with mine. It became, in fact, "survival of the fittest tour". I had a natural advantage in the form of the bull horn.

Edited at 2009-04-27 04:57 pm (UTC)


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lord_whimsy
lord_whimsy
whimsy
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC)

Okay. Wasn't sure if I recalled you having notes at the Whitney, so I thought I'd ask.

Yeas, if one's life experiences can influence the physiology of one's brain, then it follows suit that new cultural idioms will have an effect in some small way. One's genome contains in it the history of the people from which one derives: if one's ancestors lived primarily in cities or on farms, then one's physiology will differ from those whose ancestors were primarily hunter gatherers up until recently (resistance to cholera or smallpox, lactose intolerance, ability to heal quickly, body frame, propensity to gain weight, etc.). It may offer a slippery slope into eugenics, but the medical evidence backs it up.


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thomascott
thomascott
Thomas Scott
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)

Great!
Does the unreliable tour guide ever succeed in doing a hook-line-and-sinker on an audience member?
One would have to be a little impaired to fall for these skits, but presumably, on occassion, the questions asked must indicate that you have a faller.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 05:06 pm (UTC)

No, I prefer to be far-fetched than to be credible. Credibility means you have to hug the shore, and I'm always keen to say "Darwin got syphilis from a green ant" or "He became a successful theme park operator then exploded in a hotel room in Paris".


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bibble
bibble
S0n of N00n
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)

so good


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corlimey
corlimey
Emily Gera
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 08:06 pm (UTC)

Brilliant


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me.jdcasten.info
me.jdcasten.info
Mon, Apr. 27th, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
Anti-Social Darwinism

This was terrific! I cracked up with the lines, “Darwin was no saint; in fact he was a murderer,” announced in front of the shelves of skulls—I like the way Momus follows through on the twisted logic.

Speaking of the relationship of comedy to art, I’ve wondered about the (possibly dangerous) relationship between comedy and politics too; you can stretch the boundaries of acceptability quite a bit when joking—sometimes highlighting the hypocrisy of certain taboos.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
Re: Anti-Social Darwinism

makes me think of berlusconi, somehow..


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
Re: Anti-Social Darwinism

Berlusconi is a reminder that a condition of comedy is powerlessness. When someone powerful jokes about earthquake victims "going on a camping holiday" or "buying furniture at Ikea" the jokes have an unpleasant "fuck you, victims" quality to them.


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me.jdcasten.info
me.jdcasten.info
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 09:06 am (UTC)
Re: Anti-Social Darwinism

I’m not too acquainted with Berlusconi’s “humor”—but comedy has a way of “bringing the crowd together” with the supposed “common sense” of the jokester. In the US, Marc Maron towards the left to Dennis Miller on the right illustrate this. I love comedy (Jack Benny was a favorite, and I think Stephen Colbert has a similar approach to irony of character)—but farce, etc, have tremendous rhetorical force; not only in subversive power, but for the attitudes assumed.

Momus, I think your “Unreliable Tour Guide” performance is great also for the “institutionalization of institutional critique.” Some claim that the question “what is art?” is defined by an educated coterie—an elite democracy; and you both fortify this position by being “obviously unreliable” (hence implying that there is a real legitimacy to the real tour guides: they will tell you what art is and why)—and also challenge it by BEING an artist who appropriates others’ art, painting pastiche mustaches if you will, to make your own new art that defies being framed by the real tour guides—hopefully not me, here—maybe a (fun-house) mirror in a museum would present an opportunity for you to unreliably self-critique?

The Darwin aspect is also relevant to some art theory, in that “historical narrative” can be taken to define art; as if art evolves too—with its legitimate claim to being art tied to a genealogical heritage—to some origin that is unquestionably art (if such exists). Maybe I’m projecting my own platitudinous simple-mindedness here, but I see a lot of theory behind the memorable comedy— even if art is best defined by example and not theory.


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me.jdcasten.info
me.jdcasten.info
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 09:54 am (UTC)
Re: Anti-Social Darwinism

BTW: I do know the theory I referenced is dated—haven’t read much on Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics, studied Banksy’s or Blu’s Street Art closely, think manga and anime don’t really surpass Ukiyo-e, don’t believe you need to paint to be a “remodernist” with a hyper-narcissistic real human body in contrast to new-media-videogame-cyber-digital-software-internet-information art (i.e. computer aesthetics, post-digital glitches and all)— but this outsider artist is partly HERE to learn about this and more, so thanks!

www.postegoism.net


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halfelectronic
halfelectronic
Tue, Apr. 28th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
Lies, damned lies, and Darwin tours

That was fun, Nick I wish tour guides were like this around here.
certainly there'd be more visitors!

'just like MJ is entitled to like children' - LOL

Cheers
Thiago

P.S.: love the hairdo.


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obliterati
obliterati
Night of the Living Dave
Wed, Apr. 29th, 2009 01:46 am (UTC)

Have been enjoying your posts a great deal lately. Of all the internet playing with my head yours has been the funniest.


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fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Wed, Apr. 29th, 2009 06:07 am (UTC)

is that a translator in the background?


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pwvjgxccmsn
pwvjgxccmsn
Fri, Jun. 19th, 2009 06:06 pm (UTC)

Everybody lies everyday. There's no question.


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