The Good-For-Nothing Screening Room

A survey of the lyrical outsider in contemporary neo-capitalism through artist moving image and drawing.

at EnclaveLab

Artists: Oisín Byrne, Zinna Bright Mac-Eochaidh, Benji Jeffrey, Florian Meisenberg, Sara Procter, Kerstin Recker

Curated / Coordinated: Marian Stindt

Theoretically departing from Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky’s The Idiot (1869) and Joseph von Eichendorff’s From the Life of a Good-For-Nothing (1826), The Good-For-Nothing Screening Room is an artists’ moving image focused exhibition on modern day exploration of idiocy and the lyrical outsider through contemporary art.

These rather anachronistic references portray heroes who feel alienated by a performance system and incapable to operate within social structures which value an individual’s productivity and success over its ethics. Those two lyrical figures are not individual cases. Examining literature from the nineteenth century, the lyrical outsider, someone unwilling to function within a system that is treasuring economics over ethics, was a common motif. “Having studied the lives and works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, James, H. Hesse, G. I. Gurdjieff, H. G. Wells, and Sartre[1], Colin Wilson defined the Outsider as the one man [ / woman ] who knows he [ / she] is sick in a civilization that does not know it is sick. The suffering Outsider seeks an essentially religious answer to the crisis of value and the loss of individual worth in a secular society.[2]

This makes the idiot a hero.

Just like the novels, the Good-For-Nothing Screening Room doesn’t dwell on the sickness within a neo-capitalistic system, but on ways of bypassing, resisting and satirizing it. In Paul Rudnick’s words: “Comedy is often the only feasible antidote to a completely justifiable, but not very entertaining hopelessness. Sometimes a wisecrack is a weapon.”

The tensions which the ‘idiotic’, lyrical figures face are reflected in social problematics and mental health issues of young individuals today. The Good-For Nothing-Screening Room serves as a refuge space for the contemporary Idiot. The space displays artists’ moving image and illustration that humorously mirror society and its ethical flaws. The portraits drawn in those works reach from hilarious, tongue in cheek and bittersweet, often narrated from a personal point of view that invites the viewer to identify with an ‘idiotic’ hero. Enjoyment without academic or intellectual purposes is strictly allowed in the Good-For-Nothing-Screening Room. Besides humorous aspects, the artist’s works offer pointed social critique, satirical reproach to capitalism and surreal visions of the future.

As all works are time-based, the beholder is invited to ‘waste’ precious time, to be unproductive and to engage with film and artists’ moving image and visual art for the sake of nothing but pleasure and reflection. This requires slowing down and in the playful spirit of the homo ludens, to rediscover potential in leisure.

Allow yourself to engage in inefficiency and waste and afternoon in the Good-For-Nothing Screening Room.

It is about time to embrace idiocy.


[1] This list is not diverse enough, female writers have most certainly written in that realm. Therefore I need to broaden my research here.

[2] https://www.enotes.com/topics/outsider-colin-wilson

Opening Times
Preview: Thursday 17 May, 6-9pm
16 - 23 May 2018
Tuesday to Saturday, 2-8pm

Where
EnclaveLab
50 Resolution Way
London
SE8 4AL