cflow journal - issue 2013-2

Creative Assemblages – When aesthetics meet the economy or what do they have in Common?

Roee Rosen


HD video, 21 min looped, 2010.

Hilarious is set to examine the possibility of dysfunctional humor and laughter stirred when there is no reason to laugh. Hilarious presents a stand up monologue of a female comedian performing live in front of a studio audience. If humor is a mechanism set to cope in particular ways with disturbing, sometimes forbidden topics, this performance not only offsets these structures through their failure, but also offers a different manifestation of these topics, left exposed without the guise of laughter. (Roee Rosen)

In Hilarious the female comedian, Rosy Rosen, whose name is an inversion of Roee Rosen’s and can thus be seen as the alter ego of the artist, or a kind of split personality, rather like a cartoon character, an ambivalent agent, as transgression contains nothing negative and nothing positive. She is an artificial creature, a fictive and assemblage character marrying the passion of the writer and the actress who performs, translates and materializes through her performance the text into pure intensity and the smell of roses, like her name. Rosy Rosen is the beautiful monster of becoming, a “non-positive affirmation” like the Pink Panther whose “mimetic gestures do not imitate anything,” which makes it rather an imitation of itself in its machinically animated movements as it paints the world in pink. Roee Rosen writes about her in the script’s instructions that she is “wearing a long-sleeved pink cotton shirt.” Indeed Rosy Rosen is an energetic corporeal presence who intercepts with her “bodily and verbal performance that goes against itself” the trajectory between animated cartoons with their hooliganistic or “bad taste” humor and reality. Her negation, through the comic mode’s familiar patterns, is unforgiving, with its painful humor and toxic effect turning up the heat in the studio, even to the system of art, as she moves from Rabelaisian and Bakhtinian transgressions of carnival where everything to do with normative power is turned on its head, to the field of institutional critique. With killing humor it speculatively reveals how the art system creates value, and how it reflects and supports the system of wealth and private property, as well as the role of the museum as a pantheon of enclosures and tombs, of tales of the crypt – a place inhabited by death.

In order to grasp the intention of Roee Rosen in creating such a deliberate space of intense communication, a meltingly hot “artificial hell,” let us consider our aesthetic experience of non-sense “in a language stripped of dialectics” (Foucault) in the Bataillean economy of expenditure, of loss, by the methods of dysfunctional humor: “It ends with an epic joke that should be tragic rather than comic, but crassly insists on the latter.” This occurs “not outside language, but in it” (Foucault), which is why the comedian Rosy Rosen trades in her translations of fear, horror, sexuality, pain, passion, xenophobia, death and the like, through language. From these linguistic statements emerges a profound and marginal figure, a “transgression as an event of difference” that “can only be defined as the non-logical difference that represents in relation to the economy of the universe what crime represents in relation to the law.” (Bataille) The event introduces a different circulation, which leads in the studio to an ecstatic situation of “qualitative change” that emancipates the public through the real movement in a shared mediatic space, in a reversal of power that Bataille calls free expenditure: “Men assure their own subsistence or avoid suffering, not because these functions themselves lead to a sufficient result, but in order to accede to the insubordinate function of free expenditure.”

Hilarious makes the viewer forget madness and rationality. The entire aggression of the field of communication is inverted as the hierarchic order is turned on its head like an uprooted tree. Indeed, the comedian tells the story of a miracle. Rosy Rosen and Roe Rosen’s language reminds of those prayers in-between death and laughter, what Foucault calls silent language, as “a work of language is the body of language crossed by death in order to open this infinite space where doubles reverberate” – that language from which only humor is missing while everything else is abundant, the perceived “sarcasm” of the oracle that never takes sides and tells the truth in such a way that only those who can see through it will understand. “When humor is put to work without humor” what can be achieved in the best case is “pure transgression” that can open the “upturned eye” and clear out synthetic paths to an ecstatic field of sharing in the forbidden as “an object of free expenditure.” Hilarious, through the transgressive and excessive, inverts the reception in the studio, which is itself a mediatic field and a construction signified by the commercial machine of entertainment.

According to Foucault “transgression is the solar inversion of satanic denial. It was originally linked to the divine, or rather, from this limit marked by the sacred it opens the space where the divine functions,” i.e., it effects a “Copernican revolution in which the relationship of Earth and sun are inverted.” As a result the aura of the Earth as the center of the universe is taken down, and the view moves to the sun, blurs it and produces through its double affirmation the effect known as Black Sun, close to that of the blind spot, let’s call it solarization, the burning of the edges and reversal of tone through overexposure.

Text: Dimitrina Sevova

Talking about doctors and death, here’s a classic: a man is being led to the scaffold, and cries out all of the sudden, “It’s Monday! I am going to die!” [Music, laughter] I mean that’s a classic because it’s both funny and [Music, laughter] true – we are all going to die. [Waves her arms, rolls her eyes upwards and wails:] We are all going to die! [cheers, claps]. Thank you, thank you.”

Talking about the news, I read today – this is September 16th, 2008, yes? – Tuesday, right? [Giggles] – I read today that Wall-street is collapsing, Lehman Brothers – bankrupt; Merrill Lynch – sold; AIG [Pause; giggles; stock gesture 3; laughter] In fact – listen to this, this is too funny – they’re calling it the worst crisis since 1929 [raises an eyebrow. Pause; giggles]; but the question is: how funny is money?

From Roee Rosen’s script for Hilarious, 2010.