Glossary: TIME. By Bojana Kunst*


Bojana Kunst presents a Glossary session on the notion of “time”. The philosopher, dramaturgue and performance theoretician proposes the reading of “Useless Time” (2013) as a preview of the conversation that will take place with the audience.

To take part in the session and be sent the text, please write to Please note that the session will be in English.

The following is a selection of fragments of the text “Useless Time”:

“When thinking about the notion of time I’m specifically concerned with the artist’s relation to work, especially with the usefulness and productive nature of that work, which affects every dimension of an artist’s life (and therefore also comes across as a fusion of life and work). It is true that we live in a time when numerous kinds of work and activities (not only artistic) are becoming ‘useless’ and unnecessary, but at the same time this is also a time where every uselessness must be transformed into the productive value. (…)”

“In a photography series with the telling title of Artist at Work, the Croatian conceptual artist Mladen Stilinović is depicted in his sleep – in his bed, covered with a blanket and in various sleep positions. In 1992, the same author published the text “The Praise of Laziness”, in which he continues this comparison of the different concepts of laziness in the Eastern and Western Europe (the socialist and capitalist worlds). At the beginning of the 1990s, Stilinović offers an interesting interpretation and one that, in my opinion, is highly topical for the present time. (…)”


“(…) This is why the artist works constantly and, at the same time, must be incessantly critical of their work. Their every gesture, no matter how lazy it may be, must necessarily be turned into work – if not by the artist themselves, then in connection with the institutions and other elements of the system that make the artist’s work visible and evaluate it as work. (…) According to Schuster, this is why some of the laziest masters of this planet are the credit rating agencies, companies that affect the fate of the entire planet by ‘opinions only’ and without any public accountability whatsoever. While laziness is the new postmodern ethic cultivated by those who speculate and conceive of the future, the artist works incessantly, producing critical models, reflecting, warning, problematizing, provoking and participating publicly in one way or another. The most absurd thing, however, is that the artist is still frequently considered a parasite and a free-thinking freeloader who needs public funding instead of establishing themselves on the ‘free’ market. In my opinion, these reproaches need to be connected to the spread of laziness at the core of capitalism, whose speculations and creative solutions can only spread by simultaneously erasing the antagonistic sphere of the public – everything that belongs to and is valued as the common good. It is in this public sphere where the artist needs to be active. Even though the closeness of art and capitalism calls many practices into question, art still plays a very important role in the constitution of the social. (…) In this sense artist has no privilege to laziness and useless time, unless this does not become a special tactics of sharing those temporal modes with the others.”

Bojana Kunst is a philosopher, dramaturgue and performance theoretician. She is a professor at the Institute for Applied Theatre Studies in Justus Liebig University Giessen, where she is leading an international master program Choreography and Performance. She is a member of the editorial board of Maska, Amfiteater and Performance Research magazines. Her essays have appeared in numerous journals and publications. She has taught and lectured extensively at various universities in Europe and has published several books, among them: Impossible Body (Nemogoče telo, Ljubljana, 1999), Dangerous Connections: Body, Philosophy and Relation to the Artificial (Nevarne Povezave: Telo, Filozofija in Razmerje do Umetnega, Ljubljana, 2004). Kunst has edited “Work and Collaboration Processes within Contemporary Performing Arts” (Amfiteater / Maska, Ljubljana, 2006), “Artist at Work. Proximity of Art and Capitalism” (Maska, Ljubljana, pending publication), and “Performance and Labour” (ed. with Gabriele Klein, Performance Research, pending publication).

*This Glossary session has been produced in collaboration with Azala, where Bojana Kunst will lead the seminar “The Present of Time: On Temporalities of the Performance” from 21 to 25 March, 2013.

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