T H E G O O D – F O R – N O T H I N G
S C R E E N I N G R O O M
A survey of the lyrical outsider in contemporary neo-capitalism through artist moving
Artists: Oisín Byrne & Gary Farrelly, Zinna Brigh Mac-Eochaidh, Benji Jeffrey, Sara Procter,
Curated / Coordinated by: Marian Stindt
Private View: 17. May 6-9 p.m.
18.-23. May, 2-8 p.m.
Closed on Sunday & Monday
50 Resolution Way, SE8 4NT London
In his 1869 novel, The Idiot, Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky tells the fictional story of Prince Myshkin, a foolishly honest and naïve character placed in the salon society of 1860s St. Petersburg. He struggles to lie, won’t get involved with corruption and refuses to use his power for financial gain, wherefore he is referred to as idiot in the sense of a mentality disadvantaged person.
At the same time, he is confronted with a society dominated by social hierarchies and meritocracy. Social tensions, contradictions and suffering result from these structures. Prince Myshkins inability to operate within this society pushes him to seek refuge in isolation.
Within the same century, Joseph von Eichendorff created a similar fictional character in From the Life of a Good-For-Nothing (1826), who also disdains philistinism and prefers a financially poor but culturally rich lifestyle over the principles of chastity and pretence.
These rather anachronistic references portray heroes who feel alienated by a performance system and incapable to operate within social structures, which treasures economics over ethics. Those two lyrical figures are not an individual case. Examining literature from the nineteenth century, the lyrical outsider was a common motif. “Having studied the lives and works of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, James, H. Hesse, G. I. Gurdjieff, H. G. Wells, and Sartre, 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.1”
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 satirising 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 that humorously mirrors 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 enjoy film and artists’ moving image 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 an afternoon in the Good-For-
Nothing Screening Room.
It is about time to embrace idiocy.