Making time for boredom
This is the fourth and final video documenting the events organized in conjunction to the exhibition Archaeology of Longing at Kadist Art Foundation in Paris. I’ll continue making videos for Sideshows, but probably less regularly. Anyway, the video here shows excerpts from a lecture on boredom conducted by Lars Svendsen. The video is less than ten minutes, so it’s really just a fragment of an hours-long program, including a Q&A session with the public, which was interesting if a bit contentious—the lack of a psychoanalytic approach in his presentation was questioned. Lars’ response, “I don’t trust Freud.”
Indeed, in his book, A Philosophy of Boredom, Lars does not approach boredom with a psychoanalytic eye. Yet, while his exploratory investigation is not a psychoanalytic in a materialist sense, it still combines research drawn from the history of ideas to popular culture. It looks at boredom from many different sides, and, in its mix of philosophical references to literature to music, it succeeds in introducing one to the complexity that is, what the author deems, a modern condition of humankind. The book is organized in four sections—the problem, the stories, the phenomenology and the ethics of boredom. The video here combines at least a reference to the first two parts, including a brief mention of the typologies of boredom, and a bit of the importance around boredom and the making, or lack thereof, of meaning.
It was Tom Cruz who pointed me to Lars’ book, which he had reviewed for a journal some years ago. We took it upon ourselves to also analyze some of the works Lars had mentioned there, Crash and American Psycho among them. One piece that made a significant impact on me was Alberto Moravia’s Boredom from 1960. In this novel, Dino, a young, aristocrat painter can own anything except what he thinks is the genuine love from his disaffected model and lover. The search for meaning and impossibility of possessing certain things, which Dino represents, are the very characteristics of boredom.
In Archaeology of Longing, displayed were several copies of Moravia’s novel in different translations: a copy in the Italian, La Noia; in French L’ennui; the first English edition called The Empty Canvas and the most recent simply titled Boredom. The idea was not only to declare object as source in the exhibition. It was also to suggest that each translation offered a new interpretation.
The lecture “A Philosophy on Boredom” by Lars Svendsen took place on the afternoon of November 1, 2008 at Kadist Art Foundation in Paris, France. The book, “A Philosophy on Boredom,” was originally published in Norway in 1999; its first English translation was published in 2004 by Reaktion Books.