BOREDOM: Time Out of Order
photo: Jesus Vedia / Flickr CC

BOREDOM: Time Out of Order

Talk with Poprzęcka, Radziszewski, Szczawińska

‘Boredom is one of many techniques intended to change time, space, reception, quantity.’ A talk on boredom in art and boredom in creation

7 minutes reading left

ZOFIA KRÓL: Does anyone even get bored anymore?

MARIA POPRZĘCKA: I was raised to believe that only unintelligent people got bored. The kind of guys you’d see hanging out in front of an apartment building. Then again, boredom can also mean something positive. Brodsky wrote an essay titled “In Praise of Boredom”, and I recently read an article in which child psychologists praised boredom. I can see their point. Periods of idleness should be a part of childhood. They give kids time to dream, to use their imaginations. But when you drive a kid to practice right after school, and then to English class, and then judo, and then rhythmic gymnastics, then there’s no time for dreaming.

But we prefer to uphold the appearance of incessant activity. The fear of boredom has led us to the conviction that if someone’s just sitting there, they’re being idle and unproductive. Like in that old joke you hear in the mountains. They ask the old highlander, “Why aren’t you doing anything?”. To which he replies, “I am doing something. I’m sitting and thinking. And when I’m not thinking, I’m just sitting.”

WERONIKA SZCZAWIŃSKA: I think there are two kinds of boredom. One is a state of mind, an existential state, while the other is a state associated with one’s social condition. That desperation that we once associated with boredom has now been translated into a particular sort of hyperactivity. For example, working at your computer with a hundred social media websites open in your browser is a desperate attempt to stave something off, to hide the absence of something, to simulate work, and what this turns into is arduous, activated boredom. And it can be a hundred times more tiring than just letting go, which is something that requires a serious decision, an act of sorts, bearing the slogan “I’d rather not.” You don’t have to network, and you don’t have to be productive.

ZK: It also boosts your self-esteem, because it gives you the feeling that you’re busy, and hence needed.

MP: To me, the worst kind of boredom is when I have to do a job that I hate and that I’m not particularly good at. All kinds of administrative tasks, for example. And I say this as a civil servant with years of experience.

ZK: Don’t you ever get bored while writing?

MP: Of course I do.

ZK: The boredom that comes with writing can be very intense at times. The early stages of any creative task, when you sit down at your computer and you know you just have to write — there’s no getting out of it. When you have to produce something, your body is overcome by terrible laziness and it desperately attempts to avoid making the slightest movement.

MP: That’s the best time to get your cleaning, laundry, or even your ironing done. Anything to put off that unwanted work. What I find to be the worst isn’t idleness or breaks, it’s the boredom associated with work. Unfortunately, it’s usually mental work. And catching up on your email is just as good a distraction as cleaning up. I know I need to write something, so I sit down, open up my email, and feel relief. It gives you the feeling of time well spent. You’ve gotten something done, you’ve cleaned something up. There’s that sense of mental comfort.

KAROL RADZISZEWSKI: There’s also the digital version of cleaning up: organizing your hard drives. But that’s not the same thing. It’s much more tiring on your eyes and mind. The worst part is that the place where we spend our free time, the time when we’re bored on the internet, is the same place where we do our work.

ZK: According to the concept of smart boredom, smartphones have made boredom itself obsolete: we’re constantly making ourselves busy, because we just can’t function any other way, which is partially because of the frequencies at which out brains operate as they attempt to adapt to the world. And isn’t culture becoming something of a smartphone in its own right, producing artificial business? Culture has also become something to cram into five minute intervals. We have as much time to read an article as we do to scroll down something on our phones, between checking Facebook and our email. And the backlash against that has produced an opposite pole, the praise of boredom — six hour plays and endless film shots with the sole purpose of shaping time into stretches of more than five minutes; to make things flow and arrive at their destination slower. To create situations in which we can clear our heads and accept an idea or image.

MP: Yes, there are still thick books being written. I assume that there’s someone out there who reads them. This year’s Nike awards went to a handful of several-hundred page novels.

The problem with the visual arts — though I don’t really care much — is that the place of the viewer in the gallery has fundamentally changed since the advent of new media. It used to be that the theater was considered the time-consuming medium. There was a sort of unwritten contract — if I’m going to the theater, that means I’m prepared to be strapped into a seat for a few hours. The same thing goes for concerts. But the viewer of the visual arts was the master of his own time. Whether he glanced at something or simply moved on was entirely up to him. But video has completely changed that situation. You stumble into the dark video boxes at a random point in the screening, often not even knowing how long the film is. We’re thrown into a work of art that takes place in time. Not in space, to refer to Lessing’s outdated distinction of spatial and temporal art. Spatial art gave you the comfort of deciding how much time to devote to it. Video, on the other hand, requires you to view it from start to finish, and thus risk succumbing to boredom.

That has also had a strong influence on art itself. For a long time, video artists were aware that people could come and go, so there was a lot of looping going on. Now it’s even worse, because artists have basically stopped making videos in favor of complete films, with actual narratives, so there’s no point in starting them halfway through. And more and more museums have film programs.

ZK: So boredom doesn’t just affect temporal art? Is it even possible to think about boredom in spatial terms? Take for example Krasiński’s blue scotch: clearing the field for the senses, creating some kind of vacuum.

MP: Blue scotch was treated as a joke in the 60s. Ed was just goofing around. It wasn’t until several decades had past that people started thinking about it differently. Many things that have earned a mention in textbooks were originally treated as jokes or pranks. Like Ed, who was a friendly drunk.

KR: Bruce Nauman said that everything that an artist does in his studio is art. And the simplest actions he documents — like the spatial ones — are boring. He paces around, measuring the studio with his footsteps in order to point out the conceptual aspect of work, to detach the art from the object. In effect, Nauman himself got a bit bored, and the documentation requires quite a bit of patience from the viewer.

I think there’s a type of stage design in the theater that is spatial boredom. Monochromatic spaces, the kind of stage design you find in some Lupa performances, which others have borrowed and redone in their own style. Monochromatic, with optional tiles. It’s the experience of not having anything to fix your gaze on. And it leads to desperation. Some kind of formlessness. To me, that’s a space that stages boredom as an experience.

ZK: With Lupa there’s a literary, narrative dimension to it, in a sense. A space that offers the possibility of events, rather than something complete. At least that’s how it was in his earlier plays.

WS: That’s likely associated with the psychological space he extracts from the books he adapts and the scripts he constructs. It’s a kind of mental landscape of the characters on stage. I also think that boredom is particularly demotivating in the case the theater, because the medium is terribly boring by definition, at least according to the popular opinion. There is, after all, this perception of culture as a boring chore that one has to do in order to be considered a cultural person. You go to the theater and you sit through a few hours of suffering. And it’s even worse at the opera.

MP: I don’t agree with you about the opera. But Piotr Gruszczyński once wrote an article whose subtitle was borrowed from something I once said about the theater. “There’s always a door, and there’s always a couch.” The article is about the role of the door and the couch. People come, people go, they sit down, they get up. Those are the rules of the theater.

ZK: And now the theater is trying to heap on the boredom. They’re taking things too far in the other direction. Now you’re going to sit here for six hours, we’ll bore you to death, but it’ll be a true artistic experience.

KR: That’s sometimes even more perverse in social art projects that are spread out in time. Most viewers will stop by during a three hour stretch in which nothing happens, and their impression is that the piece is completely boring. The only people who stand to get anything out of it are those who show up at a moment of direct interaction. For most, the only other option is to watch the documentary footage.

MP: There’s an analog to political correctness: cultural correctness. Few people are actually able to get up and walk out of a theater. It’s just such an ostentatious thing to do. No one will give you dirty looks at a gallery. The visual arts remain a space that offers the viewer some freedom.

WS: My freedom as a viewer also matters to me. The supposedly liberating theatrical strategy whereby we share this difficult and boring space for several hours doesn’t convince me. I don’t like long plays; there are exceptions, but I usually just feel like protesting. They strike me as a form of oppression, and the theater is itself a super-violent structure. That’s why the moment you make the decision to stay in the audience or leave is so crucial. It’s an action I respect and understand to be a way of caring for the environment of the theatrical space. A bored spectator generates a terrible vibe that is very palpable on stage.

ZK: You can also sense that in the movie theater during the commercials before the film. It’s a bit like in the theater. You sit there in the dark and you have to watch them. When I went to see Polański’s Venus in Fur, half of the audience left. Perhaps it was because the film is a play screened in a cinema.

MP: I avoided the theater for years. It was just unbearable for me to see someone with a familiar name and face pretend to be someone else. I started going to things like Klata’s Hamlet at the Gdańsk Shipyard. You had to go the docks to find some water for Ophelia to drown in. Another oppressive quality of the theater is that they no longer have intermissions. Although I always hated them. Wajda once said that the lack of intermissions takes away the whole point of the theater, since plays are social events. That’s such a 19th century perspective. That’s what the opera was about in the 19th century, where the performance was little more than an excuse. Just look at the numerous opera scenes in contemporary novels. The intermission is a relic of that instrumental approach to the theater. Canceling intermissions is oppressive, but it also marks the victory of the concept of the theater as a pure art. You sit there and watch the play.

KR: Warhol is the perfect example. He would show films that went on for hours in underground cinemas, often falling asleep at his own screenings, and people would be infuriated, they would walk in, walk out, and were left to their own devices. He claimed that it was the audience’s reaction to boredom that he found interesting in the artistic sense. The films of James Benning are another example. They generally consist of one, two, or four shots. And if the film is titled 13 Lakes, then it depicts thirteen lakes, and if it’s Nightfall, then what you see is an hour and a half of twilight. At some point, the audience starts to look for entertainment wherever they can find it. The wind will carry the smoke off in a different direction, or a deer will enter the shot. It completely changes your perception. It’s a sort of artistic agreement: this is how we’re going to have fun now.

WS: That’s yet another variety of time. What matters there isn’t the dilation of time, but the willingness to accept the unknown, randomness and surprises. It’s boredom, but it’s perceptually refreshing. There are examples of “boring” art that are nevertheless enthralling, even though viewing them is itself a long and tedious act. Take for example the prose of Javier Marías, which I adore, and which is ultra-boring in a certain sense, with its reliance on extraordinarily long sentences, the obsessive exploitation of words, and events that take place in frozen time. But his prose, which requires an appreciation for detail, gives you a sense of control over time. It requires an investment of time, and in return it offers not a feeling of desperate extension, but gentle guidance through temporal intricacies, becoming an experience of sorts; I think the films you mentioned create a similar effect.

ZK: Literature is also an art form that is drawn out in time, after all.

MP: What we’ve been saying basically boils down to the idea that boredom is a temporal phenomenon. There’s no such thing as thirty second boredom. Empty time, whether it’s spent at a theater, over a boring book, or at a boring task, gives you a sense of its duration. In essence, our dislike of boredom is a result of that prolonged stretch of time. In the same way, our need for boredom is a result of our need for prolonged stretches of time in which nothing happens.

KR: That’s why we say that television either kills boredom or eats up time, depending on who’s doing the thinking.

ZK: Now the internet has become a bad kind of time-waster. Clicking on never-ending links. Meanwhile, television has become a positive variety of passiveness, a positive kind of boredom.

MP: A computer requires you to sit there and click on things. The TV is just on.

ZK: In the late 90s we came to the unanimous agreement that television was evil and that we shouldn’t even have TV sets in our homes. Watching television for hours on end was synonymous with depression, low social status, or stupidity. But that seems a bit dated now. The internet, when used without limits, might have even more of a stupefying effect. The passivity associated with TV might not be so bad after all.

KR: I watch TV two or three times a year, usually around the holidays, and I just can’t get over the commercials. Everyone else in the house is busy doing other things, while I just sit there and analyze the ads. I get really drawn into them, and at the same time I just can’t believe my eyes.

MP: I only watch the news. It’s my daily moment of inertia, and my dog takes advantage of that, because it has me all to itself. But I find prime time fascinating: that moment between the end of the news and the weather forecast. That’s when they run the most expensive ads, which are more interesting than the actual news. After I watch the weather I turn off the TV and take my dog for a walk.

ZK: In literature it’s not so much the suspension of time that’s a tool for boredom — because the words must always flow and there can be no vacuum — as much as repetition. Wit Szostak’s Fuga (Fugue) is a good example of this. As the title suggests, it’s full of the repetition and reprisal we find in music. Repetition in itself is boredom.

MP: I wish we had a musicologist here. We’re limited to awkward metaphors in discussions of the visual, and meanwhile musicologists have such an extraordinarily professional vocabulary with which to describe time. I learned about it by listening to post-docs deliver their habilitation lectures at department board meetings. There’s such precision in how they discuss pauses and silence in music, and the role of stops and repetition.

ZK: And how is the tool of repetition used in the theater?

WS: I believe that repetition can become the medium that will save the theater from boredom, paradoxically enough. What produces boredom in performance arts is the lack of form, the intentional derailment of time and space, celebrated on all its planes — an experiment outside an experimental framework. Repetition as a tool introduces a certain rhythm: it can be animating or annoying, but it is physically perceptible and draws our attention. Where there is rhythm, there is energy, liveliness, and a focus on contact, regardless of whether the strategy is that of the remix or the repetition of textual or musical phrases. Boredom, on the other hand, is a kind of “rhythmlessness.”

ZK: Suspension relies on cessation, on the presence of nothing. And repetition relies on the appearance of something you know very well. It’s also a form of boredom, but one that doesn’t necessarily lead to boredom as a state of mind.

WS: In that sense, the theater is build on boredom, because in both the general and traditional definitions of theater, one watches familiar actors, listens to familiar writing, and experiences familiar stories. The theater as a memory machine can also be a boredom machine that keeps repeating something we know very well and which, most importantly, provokes a known reaction. That’s probably the most boring thing about the theater: the fulfillment and satisfaction of our expectations. And the repetition I’m talking about, rhythmic tools, can deform the familiar, the expected, and the well liked. My favorite example of such an effect, however, comes from cinema: the excellent Chantal Akerman film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (the titled itself is rather dizzying). It’s a three-hour movie about peeling potatoes, turning the lights on and off, and cleaning up around the house. And because Delphine Seyrig’s movements are captured in such rhythmic shots, you experience the three hours as a stirring musical structure, reacting sensitively to every suspension, pause, and interruption. Akerman’s film actually offers a broad problematization of “boredom.”

MP: What Mamoń says in Rejs, that he “only likes the songs he knows,” also applies to the work of the art historian who, faced with an unknown object or event, wants to get rid of the “unpleasant nature of strangeness” at all costs. A work of art is only tamed when it can be placed within the existing order. Our need for shock is very limited. Boredom has a lot in common with our need for security.

WS: Confidence in the social situation.

KR: That’s the association one has with the world’s wealthiest countries. Peaceful cities, all gray, similar, well-kept. Switzerland, Sweden. Our first thought is, “My god, how boring.” But it’s safe there.

ZK: There’s also boredom as the space for experience. Art creates such a space in time in which a passing deer can actually be seen as an event. But in order for that to happen, time must first be dilated; it’s a manipulative technique of working on the viewer. But here we are talking about the viewer the whole time: what about the boredom of the creative process? What about when the artist gets bored?

KR: That’s a complicated topic. The question is to what extent is boredom merely idleness, and to what extent is it a form of creative relaxation, a break that lets you be productive. This year, for the first time in many years, I took a regular vacation. Beach, sun — practically an all-inclusive trip. An hour of work in the morning and that’s it. The first few days were torture. I only had a book to give me an alibi that I was still doing something. But I was unable to switch off work thoughts, and I blocked off all other stimuli. I began to understand what was going on after about week. Then I experienced a kind of meditative state, a kind of turning off. And then boredom turned into rest.

ZK: When you sit down to work, do you have this moment when you stare blankly into space in order to clear your head?

KR: No. I used to share a studio with some friends. Two of them would stay there from morning until night, and they would sometimes practice what you might call creative boredom. Meanwhile, I would set myself strict deadlines, a specific hour, and I would use that space very precisely. Now I have a different workspace: a small, white studio. And I go there for a specific reason: to make something, draw something, or take a picture of something. I know what it’s going to be. I do my mental work in the bedroom, where I have my laptop and my hard drives. There’s no room for creative boredom.

ZK: And you don’t try to produce a state of creative boredom in your life?

KR: Not really. I think I care too much about the viewer. I don’t want to bore anyone. I have a lot of empathy. But many artists don’t care about that.

MP: As a university lecturer, I understand that. I always pay particular attention to whom I’m speaking to. Speaking to students in one way all the time can make you fall into a rut. What if you have say something to the elderly or to children once in a while? I had a great class in front of the discount supermarket Biedronka in Otwock recently. It’s invigorating when you suddenly manage to getting Saturday morning shoppers interested in art.

ZK: Are you free of the sense of guilt that comes with not doing anything?

KR: No, I very often feel guilty. That’s why when I fly, for example, I take a book that I’m going to need for work, but then I’m so tired that I can’t even read it.

MP: That’s really terrible. My mother always told me that I didn’t know how to relax, even though I’ve always had a pretty fun lifestyle.

ZK: What about your social life?

MP: I don’t feel any guilt there.

ZK: That’s the point. You’re somehow allowed to be bored with other people.

KR: But I guess you could call that networking. Every time you meet with someone you find interesting enough to go have a beer with, you get something out of it. And I hesitate to call such a pleasant moment boring, because I’m hard-wired to treat it as a negative term.

ZK: Weronika, how does boredom fit into your creative process?

WS: I share Karol’s observations about incessant guilt. We’re freelancers, so we can celebrate New Year’s Eve every Wednesday and work Sundays, but we still work within certain social confines that are tuned to the capitalist mode of production which tells you: work now, and now take a break. The sense of guilt comes from not fitting into those confines, from blurring the boundaries. It’s a kind of tension. And that New Year’s Eve every Wednesday loses its charm.

But the boredom that comes with work is something very important to me. Despite the whole demystification of the theater, I still think of it in terms of natural processes that have their own rules. A concept implemented at the mental, textual, and physical level has to age a bit in order to bear multidimensional fruit. For me, the start of rehearsals is the most boring stage: we’ve finished the table-reads where we’ve managed to capture something, and now it’s time to act, it’s time to get things off the ground. And that’s usually the moment when all you have are questions, doubts, and a blank. You take one step forward and two steps back. There are days when you go home with the feeling that you didn’t get anything done at that rehearsal. And days like that are very necessary.

Films about artists, particularly theater artists, depict the excitement that comes with breakthrough moments. Tireless work. Struggle. Black Swan is a good example. The choreographer is constantly yelling, “Give me passion! Give me more passion!”. And yet the first stage of rehearsals is the absolute opposite of that. There’s no progress, no achievement.

ZK: That sounds like the beginning of many editorial meetings.

WS: Maybe it’s an issue of letting a topic settle in your mind and body, which applies to every form of thought. At that early stage of breaking through the boredom, I’m always concerned that someone is going to come into the rehearsal and I’m going to start explaining myself like you would at a proper job: “I’m very sorry, I know it doesn’t look like it, but we really are working here.” I know that stage is necessary, but that doesn’t make it any less embarrassing.

As far as the audience goes, I try to activate them as much as possible. I provoke them, irritate them. Not to get them to find some time for themselves, but to interest them or infuriate them. To have them encounter something alien, something that will make them look at things differently after leaving the theater. There’s no room for producing boredom in what I do.

ZK: But to create something that infuriates the audience, you first have to create a state of boredom among the artists.

WS: Yes, and that boredom seems to me to be a way to make contact: to communicate our viewpoints and gradually understand and digest what each of us wants to do.

ZK: Before you start working with people, when you sit down in front of your screen, a sheet of paper, or just by yourself, and you try to write something, does that also start with some kind of emptiness or boredom, or do you immediately start working, like Karol?

WS: It’s not unlike the process that goes into writing an article. It’s the same idea. You move from one exciting point to another, but these points require slow and tedious work, emptiness, time, and a bit of dilly-dallying.

MP: Solo work is much more pleasant than working with actors. I once sneaked into a rehearsal for Warlikowski’s Tramway at the Odeon. The director was sitting on a couch explaining something at length to Isabelle Huppert. I realized how cool it is to be able to work by yourself. The theater struck me as a kind of non-action that can later produce something fantastic.

ZK: There’s a special gap that forms between the moment of a social encounter and the moment it bears creative fruit. Sometimes it seems like that gap cannot be overcome, and that’s when boredom occurs.

WS: But you have to allow yourself to be bored. I always feel bad for keeping other coworkers, the technical crew, for example, in that state of suspension. It always seems a bit indecent.

ZK: I want to go back to smart boredom for a moment. The kind of boredom that we’ve been discussing is timeless: boredom in art and in life. But there’s something changing now. There’s a change in the rhythm of life and the rhythm of free time: the stretches of free time are getting shorter and a new rhythm of everyday life is coming in. The question is, what does that mean for the production of works of art, for the rhythm of culture, for example, which is becoming more project-oriented and geared towards immediacy. Festivals in which every little gap has an event crammed into it. The culture industry has ballooned in every possible dimension.

KR: It’s impossible by definition to see everything at most festivals or artistic biennales. Several things are supposed to be going on at once, and it’s up to the audience to decide what they want to see. Lots of people have trouble with that. I try to plan everything so as to see everything I want. And that doesn’t work out, and I get frustrated. I’d rather focus once and then have a moment to go talk to someone. There’s so much of it that you just give up in the end.

MP: …And you go grab a beer, and it turns out that there’s already plenty of people that had the same idea. It’s the same thing at academic conferences, where you have several sections in parallel and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Sometimes that can be very important.

ZK: Rarely does anyone ever see other people’s appearances at literary festivals. You have four people performing and everyone else is at the bar. This kind of surplus production in culture also has its financial causes, because we all need to have a job. But I’m not sure this overabundance of projects can simply be reduced to financial and organizational circumstances.

MP: Closing out a grant is just one of the factors behind surplus production. But it’s true that in order to get funding, you have to come up with god-knows-what, and then, like it or not, you have to go through with it to close out the grant.

ZK: That project-oriented nature of culture is becoming a kind of smartphone that you use to read your email while waiting in line. It’s often just a way of creating an unnecessary activity.

WS: It’s apparent in the promotional strategies of cultural institutions. The same strategies employed in game design or flashy websites are used to promote plays or high-caliber exhibitions. On the one hand, it’s a good thing, because it lightens things up and dispels the unpleasant associations one has with cultural duties, and it broadens the audience. It tears down the wall between the consumer and the great castle of art. But on the other hand, now everything has to be this cool project.

KR: For example, there has to be an opening at the Ujazdowski Castle every week now. That distracts artists, and it also distracts viewers. It doesn’t matter if I go this Friday or next week, or the week after that. There will always be something there. But a good restaurant should have three excellent dishes, not one hundred to choose from. Because a big selection is paralyzing. And there is a need to create some space in which to slow or narrow down that project- and event-oriented character of culture.

MP: There’s a word used in the context of autism: overstimulation. We’re all a little bit autistic and need to shut the world out once in a while.

KR: I’m working on a project now that has to do with Grotowski. What he proposed also involved slowing down, going deeper, and reaching just a single viewer. When the audience is too big, I feel guilty about not reaching them. Maybe this absurd, dandyish decision to work for the proverbial single viewer — there could be four or five of them — isn’t just a whim, but the only possible way to let someone experience it. You can narrow down the audience or ask them to devote time they don’t have. It’s very difficult and exclusive. I’m not doing it yet, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it.

WS: I really like this return to avant-garde categories. The believe that “you have to counteract exclusion, you have the duty to open up to social issues” has basically become commodified. At this point, it’s a political gesture to say, “No, this isn’t for everyone.” It doesn’t have to be.

KR: We’ve seen that already with the slow food movement and other things that were created to slow things down, make them purer and better for society and for the environment. But in art, particularly in Poland, we’re still at the stage of building up this attractive, educational show. If you want to limit selection and make things even harder, you’re going to face all sorts of problems, including difficulties with securing funding. In effect, you’re faced with a very tough decision that’s no easier than what they had to deal with in the 60s.

ZK: So boredom is one of many techniques intended to change time, space, reception, quantity. To somehow limit surplus.

KR: Boredom is also a bohemian, dandyish concept. A sophisticated form of idleness.

MP: That’s the whole idea behind flaneuring.

KR: There’s not enough of that going on. Marina Abramović tried to do something like that, but then she turned it into a caricature. Just for laughs, I posted a video on Facebook in which Marina, in full makeup, says, “Now I’m going to teach you how to drink water.” And she spends four minutes drinking water from a glass. Despite what it may seem like, she’s not actually giving much time to her audience. A viewer might think that four minutes is really something, but it’s not.

MP: We keep coming up with all these contradictions. On the one hand, boredom is equal to oppression and guilt, and on the other, it’s all about comfort and luxury. Because it requires time. It’s terribly banal, but time is the most precious kind of capital nowadays. An artist can request nothing greater of us than our time. Then again, we retain the freedom to just shrug and leave at any time instead of staying to the end of the performance.

WS: Boredom in art, in contrast to overstimulation, has something in common with selflessness. For example, it can address a topic that is seemingly passé. In that sense, I would consider boredom to be a strategy of resistance: to do something that is non-obvious, not entirely necessary. Aesthetically suspect, not as advertised on the flier, website, smartphone, contrary to expectations and demands.

translated by Arthur Barys

The series of articles on boredom is published in cooperation with Goethe-Institut portal and transmediale – festival for art and digital culture.