Paul Clinton

“Paul Clinton is a writer, curator and is the associate editor of the magazines frieze and Frieze Masters. He has taught seminars on art, stupidity and queer theory at Goldsmiths College and the University of Manchester. In 2013 he edited a special issue of the philosophy and critical theory journal parallax on stupidity, and in 2014 the South London Gallery staged a day-long event around his research on this subject. In the same year he organised the conference Shimmering World, which featured presentations by artists Ed Atkins, David Panos and Hannah Sawtell. In 2015 he co-curated the exhibition ‘duh? Art & Stupidity’ at Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea, and in 2016 he co-edited a special issue of frieze devoted to class politics, which lead to a study day on the subject at the Royal College of Art, London, co-hosted with Nina Power.  Recent articles include on the queer sociologist Didier Eribon, the artist Gustav Metzger and on the queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Previous speaking engagements have taken place at the Frieze Art Fair, ICA, Tate Modern, Whitstable Biennale and Whitechapel Gallery, amongst other venues. He was also a founding member of the band No Bra, co-writing several songs on the album Dance and Walk, and with Patrick Wolf he formed the band Maison Crimenaux.”

Paul Clinton acts primarily as a writer and a curator bu has participated in a range of projects. He initially started in bands and formed the group ‘Maison Crimeneaux’ with Patrick Wolf which satirized figures around them. His most notable band was titled ‘No Bra’ whose most popular song entitled ‘Munchausen’ tackled pretentiousness and the process of showing off that at once depicted superior knowledge as well as revealing an insecurity and the need to be accepted. ‘Munchausen’  acted as a kind of delusion yet the band itself was included in this parody as they themselves acted as the voices in the song.

Clinton showed us his work entitled ‘Inches’  (2001)  a short film that was created collaboratively with Susan Oberbeck. Clinton described that the work lacked ‘subtlety’ and a clear plot line. He was influenced by the Cinema of Transgression whose films were often shoddily produced and the explicit aim was to question social norms and to offend. Clinton told us that he was suspicious of the idea of transgression and subversion and his influences include Richard Kern ‘You Killed Me First’, 1985 and Jonathan Dollimore who focuses on containment and subversion. An interesting comment that Clinton made was that often, through protest we are defined by the thing we are trying to resist.

Other influences to Clinton include George and Mike Kuchar and the band Throbbing Gristle in which their industrial music fit into a certain genre yet subverted the norm due to the fact that sinister undertones were often present.

During the end of the talk Clinton ran out of time but tried to tackle topics that he has worked on such as Queer Stupidity. I didn’t quite grasp some of the concepts discussed but it seems very in depth and would be interesting if more time was assigned.



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