Text written by me for the solo show “ In between a cute ripple of desire”
December 2021 - Niewve Vide - Haarlem ~ Netherlands
Oh, That’s cute! We say out loud while changing the pitch of our voices, at the encounter of
something that produces in us an extreme feeling of empathy and tenderness; a specific kind of
empathy that can be related with the phrase
“me lo como a besos”, meaning I will eat it with kisses. Cuteness has the power to disarm us instantly since there is no doubt about what is cute or isn’t.
Cute can be applied to an object, a person, an animal, an action. Thus we believe that what defines something or someone as cute is not a set of fixed characteristics but fixed methods of reduction applied differently but seamlessly across materialities and identities. The difference between these two types of definitions is what makes cuteness a powerful tool for manipulation, as it adapts to every particular and individual vessel instead of being a set of aspiration rules leading towards a single canon of appearances. Thus, beauty and cuteness work at various levels of projection, but intersect on the diverse ways in which they are utilized to perpetuate specific power structures of violence and control upon different bodies. Cuteness is an empathy cast upon what has been reduced on its shape to a degree of inspiring the need and lust of being protected and consumed, without a clear order of these actions.
Cute therefore is never feared,is always safe —safe at least for the one feeling the warmth of cuteness inside their tummies instead of the one being cataloged as the source of it. To be cute is to be held without generating fear. Thus cuteness can also be seen as an encounter where all the sides involved get simultaneousl disarmed and exposed to a sense of vulnerability, mostly without consent. While embracing cuteness, all our senses are focused on its source and, though we can say that what inspires cuteness inspires also a sense of protection, there is no guideline to identify the emerging feeling as protection or possession; alas, from who or what must the cuties be protected from is a blurred image of someon or something else and ourselves. Therefore cutenes creates its own temporality of affection,and it is inside this temporality that different values intertwine and perpetuate endlessly.
In this research I am looking into cuteness as an empathic aesthetic dimension that emerges after violent processes of reduction in order to substitute them with a peaceful consent and acceptance inscribed in a binary constellation of power. A process of reduction is therefore a process of cutiefication. I can go further and say that cutiefication is a form of acculturation where the violence is disguised under forms of acceptance, even if the disguise cannot hide its massive proportions and consequences. Throughout this exhibition and further on in my research I intend to explore the extent and possibilities of cuteness as a reductive mechanism, but also the potentialities of its miss-use.
If we can analyze separately the processes behind what makes something cute, we can then re-appropriate those processes to reflect back upon structures of consumption. Therefore, cuteness can be claimed as an effective and affective device to activate empathy towards bodies, spaces, and ideas that are not usually seen as such. Cuteness also can be used as a reflecting tool to keep opacities unclaimed.
In this exhibition I intend to explore cuteness on its reduction/representation when it come to nature and sex through the aesthetic and technics of animation. Animation is cuteness in motion.Not only movement is represented and therefore reduced into individual static frames as in any type of film; it also adds another layer of reduction that is the drawing itself, even when talking about fx and cgi. Elements are captured only on their maximum degree of splendor and then played separately in different temporalities and loops. In Anime this becomes more evident, especially if we look at Hentai and how the cutiefication of body fluids is performed and repeated. To animate is als seen as the action of giving movement to static elements carrying the idea of “bringing element to life”
by projecting human temporalities into non-human bodies. The question will be then:
who’s temporalities upon whom are being overlapped?
This can be also intertwined with ideas of Nature as a humaninvention, meaning the creation of a single and measurable concept in order to create a binary structure for humans to relate with by opposition or projection. Through this perspective, cuteness can also be cast upon to generate different types of empathy in
order to activate and de-activate different
structures of affect.