The Belly Laugh of Kynismus
My practice based research sets out to revive Kynismus as cultural protest, possibly the only form of subversive reason with the potential to deliver political and social alternatives. If cynicism means employing resignation and duplicity as way of living in and even working for a culture that one knows and accepts as corrupt, then Kynismus is the combative impulse characterised by cheekiness and Parrhesia (Truth-telling) that challenges at every opportunity. The defining theme of ancient Greek Cynic philosophers (Diogenes, Crates, Bion), Kynismus valued satirical laughter, the politics of the body and an austere, uninhibited life that in its original form acted as protest against Platonic ideals, the culture of the polis and the imperial claims of Alexander the Great.
In my research I will both explore ancient texts and identify a number of more recent historic figures whom I feel explored Cynic themes, undermining the notion of a stable identity and the materialistic, self-preserving drive of capitalism. Now faced with a compelling need for radical social and cultural reform and having identified Kynismus as the potential driving force for that reform, this visual art project will draw on the experiences of activists, researchers and educators at an international level and embody a corpus of Cynic thought through sculpture, time based media and outdoor performance works. Drawing on contemporary interpretations of Cynic thought (Foucault, 1984; Sloterdijk, 1987; Hasek, 1923), this research aims to make a significant contribution to our understanding of Kynismus as protest.