The art of the monologue - seminar by Chus Martínez and Dora García
In the seminar the lecturers will investigate the institution not only as a place where to present and discuss contemporary art production but as a complex social situation that demands interpretation. In the hope of provoking a vivid discussion they include such topics for investigation like delinquency and exhibition making, the residency as occupation of a place, writing as a tool, as well as the situation of medium size institutions and projects versus the museum or the kunsthalle.
Keynotes for discussion
“The art of the monologue
The expansion of culture as a new form of the entertainment industry has transformed the space in which artists but also curators operate… If you operate ignoring the parameters of cultural politics you risk to look like the family run-shop next door to the supermarket. It is pointless to compete for the same social ground as the supermarket… Clearly we need a different space, a new cultural ecology. At the same time we are so focused in protecting our corner that few energies are left to start this grand exploit. That is why we propose to look at a master of the stand-up comedian business. Performed night after night a monologue can affect the unaccustomed ear…
Lenny Bruce, the Jesus Christ of stand-up comedy, —who suffered prosecution between 1961 and the moment of his death in 1966 because of the defiant, daring and truthful (obscene for his enemies) character of his uncompromising texts, his absolute refusal to accommodate to political correctness or convention or decorum, and because of his reciprocal empathy with the most radical 60´s counterculture— is presented as a case study for the complex relationship between artist and audience.
The stand-up artist who started his monologues in the 60´s with sentences such as "I am going to piss on you" (receiving cheers and roaring applause from his audience as answer) or "I am going to forbid entrance to my shows to anyone younger than 20 or older than 40", or yet "I cannot speak to an audience older than 60. To anyone older than 60, the only thing I can think of saying is "No, thank you, I have already eaten""… or –and this is the last quote- "I know they have placed an undercover Jewish cop in the audience, to find out if I am obscene when I speak Yiddish", this stand up artist is a model, as said, of the complexities of the feedback between artist and target group.
The fracture between the institution (in the form of censorship, government, newspapers, police), the artist (Lenny), and the audience (clearly divided between the loyal, the unbeliever, and the outraged), can be easily translated into today´s institutional critique landscape. The idea is to do so while commenting on some of the most revealing and witty pieces of Lenny´s monologues”.