laziness practiced and perfected

(Balthus, Vee Speers, James Lavadour, Roger Ballen)

Stilinovic is an artist from Croatia.  For him, thought, amnesia, indifference, non-activity, pain, stupidity and futility are virtues.  We must practice these things and perfect them.  Or we will end up as mere producers, promoters and competitors.

As an artist, I learned from both East (socialism) and West (capitalism). Of course, now when the borders and political systems have changed, such an experience will be no longer possible. But what I have learned from that dialogue, stays with me. My observation and knowledge of Western art has lately led me to a conclusion that art cannot exist … any more in the West. This is not to say that there isn’t any. Why cannot art exist any more in the West? The answer is simple. Artists in the West are not lazy. Artists from the East are lazy; whether they will stay lazy now when they are no longer Eastern artists, remains to be seen.

Laziness is the absence of movement and thought, dumb time – total amnesia. It is also indifference, staring at nothing, non-activity, impotence. It is sheer stupidity, a time of pain, futile concentration. Those virtues of laziness are important factors in art. Knowing about laziness is not enough, it must be practiced and perfected. Artists in the West are not lazy and therefore not artists but rather producers of something… Their involvement with matters of no importance, such as production, promotion, gallery system, museum system, competition system (who is first), their preoccupation with objects, all that drives them away from laziness, from art. Just as money is paper, so a gallery is a room.

Artists from the East were lazy and poor because the entire system of insignificant factors did not exist. Therefore they had time enough to concentrate on art and laziness. Even when they did produce art, they knew it was in vain, it was nothing.

Artists from the West could learn about laziness, but they didn’t. Two major 20th century artists treated the question of laziness, in both practical and theoretical terms: Duchamp and Malevich.  Duchamp never really discussed laziness, but rather indifference and non-work. When asked by Pierre Cabanne what had brought him most pleasure in life, Duchamp said: “First, having been lucky. Because basically I’ve never worked for a living. I consider working for a living slightly imbecilic from an economic point of view. I hope that some day we’ll be able to live without being obliged to work. Thanks to my luck, I was able to manage without getting wet”.

Malevich wrote a text entitled “Laziness – the real truth of mankind” (1921). In it he criticized capitalism because it enabled only a small number of capitalists to be lazy, but also socialism because the entire movement was based on work instead of laziness. To quote: “People are scared of laziness and persecute those who accept it, and it always happens because no one realizes laziness is the truth; it has been branded as the mother of all vices, but it is in fact the mother of life. Socialism brings liberation in the unconscious, it scorns laziness without realizing it was laziness that gave birth to it; in his folly, the son scorns his mother as a mother of all vices and would not remove the brand; in this brief note I want to remove the brand of shame from laziness and to pronounce it not the mother of all vices, but the mother of perfection”. Finally, to be lazy and conclude: there is no art without laziness.

Work is a desease – Karl Marx.

Work is a shame – Vlado Martek.

–The Praise of Laziness, Mladen Stilinovic

three hour work day
May 3, 2008, 1:48 am
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

(wilde | kierkegaard | sloths | sloth)

The line between sloth and doing nothing is very fine.  Sloth is loaded up as a sin whereas doing nothing can mean communing with people who matter, even God himself.

“Theories and polemics about sloth have figured widely in Western thought in the work of artists, philosophers, and cultural critics as diverse as Aquinas, Nietzsche, and Malevich, as well as Marx, Kierkegaard, and Wilde. In Dante’s Purgatorio, for example, sloth is described as being the “failure to love God with all one’s heart, all one’s mind, and all one’s soul.” A more secular viewpoint on sloth is provided by Paul LaFargue, Karl Marx’s son-in-law, who authored the influential The Right to be Lazy (1883) and tirelessly campaigned for a three-hour workday. Likewise, in his manifesto in praise of laziness (1993), Zagreb-based artist Mladen Stilinovic suggests that Western artists are too preoccupied with promotion and production, and are thus less artists than producers.”

~from the Slought Foundation website

“Far from idleness being the root of all evil, it is rather the only true good.”

– Soren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855), Either/Or, Vol. 1

“To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.”

– Oscar Wilde, (1854-1900), The Critic as Artist

a world lacking description
March 26, 2008, 4:09 pm
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Interesting that vampires cannot see their own reflection.  A little less interesting that dogs see their reflection – and that of their bones – and greedily drop the real attempting to get the unreal.  So it seems vanity and greed are metaphored in images of reflection and that the dead are robbed of these human indulgences. Here, in post war communist Poland, all points of reference are removed by refusing to name and describe things.  Instead images and words are used to make an idea that isn’t real.  And living in that place is hard and lonely and duplicitous.

“It’s hard to live in a world lacking description. It cannot be understood if one didn’t live in a not-described world. It is as if you lived without identity. Simply, anything around has no reflection, anywhere. You can’t see any reference point around, for nothing has been described and nothing has a name. So you live on your own, alone; anything that could be used to describe the world was used by propaganda to build the theoretically attractive idea, but… in reality, unfortunately, it always ends up the same way: I mean, you feel a gun on your head. We lived by ideas of fraternity, equality and justice, but there was neither fraternity, nor equality and no justice at all.”

Krzystztof Kieslowski