The Political Seducer’s Diary

Performance Art Houston [link]

an Instagram-based performance art event curated by Jeanette Joy Harris
~ based on Keirkegaard’s “The Seducer’s Diary”

Ryder’s event: December 2-8, 2017

Text shared on facebook by the curator: 
“I was so excited about Ryder’s show that it brought out the geek in me. Here are a few thoughts.

There is so much to unpack about Ryder’s show but there are three things I want to highlight. First, the use of text. Second, the prominence of the building not acquiescence of seduction. Third, the idea of the rigidity not frailty of seduction.

First, Ryder has taken sections of Kierkegaard’s text as a literal instruction manual for the construction of seduction. While the protagonist of “The Seducer’s Diary” is using an internalized methodology for wooing women, Ryder is materializing and externalizing it. The quotes and text guide us along the way, which is especially helpful in the first few posts.

Second, if you look at the number of videos in Ryder’s show, we can see that the emphasis is on the preparation of the seduction not the seduction itself. In Kierkegaard’s text, as in Ryder’s show, the enjoyment of the seduction is not necessarily seen as teleological (with a goal in mind) but as instrumental (the way in which a goal is achieved). That is to say, unlike most lovers, the work and enjoyment comes form the planning and construction of the seduction not the fulfillment of the seduction itself.

Third, Kierkegaard asks us to reconsider the notion of “wooing” as a rigid process that can be used and reused with a relatively successful and predictable outcome. In most cases we consider “wooing” as an ephemeral activity that involves indescribable emotions, rapidly beating hearts and bad poetry. Keirkegaard relies on these typical reactions and uses them as components of a highly structured plan. For Ryder, instead of ephemeral materials and activities, he, again, materializes and externalizes the emotional and internal by using construction materials: cement blocks, plywood, utility buckets not roses, love letters and romantic dinners. He physically – not mentally – prepares for the seduction by working out with the materials.

Of course, what cannot be ignored is the “failure” of the seduction – Ryder drinking a beer by himself. But this “failure” is ultimately revealed as a celebration because he did not want to really woo anyone to begin with.

So, what we can see in Ryder’s show is a correlation but subversion of the text by materializing the ephemeral, externalizing the internal, and physically emphasizing the instrumental – not teleological – cause of “wooing.”

Or, in plainer terms, THE SHOW ROCKED!

~ Joy Harris
December 12, 2017

Political Tools: Seduction I

~ For this series of works: 

After reading Kierkegaard’s “seducer’s diary” and some of his biography I was most struck by the idea that seduction is a manufactured, fabricated reality that lures the subject into a realm they would otherwise not inhabit. This is a reality built upon crafted manipulation, often incepting ideas as potential promises. The promise of this new realm –the aesthetic realm– is greater awareness, sensitivity, and heartbreaking vulnerability to falsity as a new truth.

To seduce I set out to deliberately tease with the “how” and lead to the “what,” crafting a quasi-sexy narrative of mundane creation as a means to manufacture a relationship. The key to “buy in” is to gain empathy through education. Crafting grants access to the realm of the maker: the halting documentation is a slow education, dispelling and complicating mystery by claiming transparency. Yet the object made is only a souvenir of the seducer’s seduction, cleverly performing it’s role as a distancing proxy.

The sawhorse itself is a human scale support structure typically made from wood. Crafted of false 2×4’s made from foam it’s utility is nearly nil, except as a conveyance of ideas. This allows for aesthetic/anthropomorphic considerations of form, and a questioning of resources wasted fabricating poor simulacra and courting frailty. However, the gradual testing of the “fake” sawhorse, first with ideas of cinderblocks (foam photographic simulacra) finally leads to the support of a real cinderblock. The intentionally weak character, the carefully constructed lies, are never made to withstand “reality” and yet -for a while- they may hold.

This is politics.

Political Tools: Seduction II

~ For this series of works:

I have always joked about different types of fitness, such as my need to be in “art shape” to make good art.

I see seduction as a lived process, and the journey of the aesthete as an openness to being seduced. Our seduction of self to maintain our drive to seduce others, is most interesting and problematic. In the art world and in politics one must “work” without being seen, so that the moment of being seen appears magical and profound. This work to transform the mundane into the profound, to spend time in the pursuit of ideas over economics, is a political act. The hubristic narcissism that accompanies such pursuits is the pathos that makes the world.

As well, the increasing reliance on the body/face as brand with the crafted object as secondary to the biography of the maker, speaks of a inseparable confusion between the individual and the act/the object. We are making ourselves, with the objects as placeholders for our presence. Thus an art without body or object becomes a difficult seduction, and we revert to the mean self to sale ideas.

In the above video, the laborer attempts preparation for seduction with tools of his trade. Low objects used (in this case) for shallow intent. And yet, the obvious need to perform such rituals is obvious in terms of societal placement, ritual, and import. The seduction process is a courtly compromise of self to sell one’s self, and if this is pleasurable one must be pathological. Apparently most of us are.