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Sianne Ngai, Chris O’Kane: Commodity Fetishism @ Cloud Room [Seattle]
May 13, 2017 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pmFREE!
Red May Seattle Presents
Sianne Ngai, Chris O’Kane: Commodity Fetishism
Saturday May 13th, 2017
FREE! // 2PM // All Ages
Sianne Ngai is a brilliant writer, cultural observer and professor at Stanford and, this May, she will be gracing Seattle with her presence for a free lecture at Cloud Room on Capitol Hill.
It’s hard to express disgust for a cuddly cat picture or a goofy indie-pop song full of puns and “dad humor,” but there is definitely something evil lurking around art that is almost recklessly inoffensive. For all those ill at ease with the overly whimsical and frustratingly innocuous aesthetics of our age, Ngai beautifully articulates what’s going on behind the cute curtain. Or, to put it simply: Ngai goes deep on the shallow.
In her book Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute and Interesting [Harvard University Press, 2015], she looks closely at how these categories have pushed their way into the forefront of culture. To pull a quote from the introduction:
“ …the zany, the interesting and the cute are important for the study of contemporary culture…they give us insight into major problems in aesthetic theory that continue to inform the making, dissemination, and reception of culture in the present.”
And, yes, her writing is academic (I guess its her job) and is peppered with words and references that I’m not always hip to. BUT! don’t let that scare you away, or act as a gate-keeper preventing your exposure to this insightful lady. Whether or not you comprehend every word, she possesses and uncanny ability to reveal contemporary truths hidden in plain sight.
As part of Red May (a month-long pinko pep-rally?), her talk will be in the context of communism, but regardless of your political orientation — or a lack of interest in politics, altogether — I’d encourage anyone with an eye toward contemporary culture to attend. The topic of discussion will be “Commodity Fetishism,” though I doubt Ngai will be rehashing predictable fuddy-duddy Marxist tropes. More likely, she will be bringing something poignant and unexpected to the table.