The Sloth of the Author: In Defense of a Call to Inaction
Brady, Laura Michiko
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Mladen Stilinović’s (1947-2016) text “In Praise of Laziness” (1993) makes seemingly absurd claims about the relationship between art and laziness which are most often interpreted as political commentary in his typically cynical brand of humor. While this humor is indeed a consistent and essential element of his work, such readings fail to critically assess the depth of his notion of “laziness.” I conduct a thorough unpacking of his definition in order to reveal “laziness” as a form of constructive passivity with a potentially pacifist dimension. With particular focus on his artist books and works dealing with themes of time and pain, I demonstrate the myriad ways in which Stilinović’s notion of “laziness” manifests throughout his oeuvre. Contextualization of “In Praise of Laziness” has been dominated by oversimplified narratives of a global “East/West” divide while Stilinović’s particular geopolitical circumstances as a member of the last Yugoslav generation have been overlooked. Following a careful recontextualization of “In Praise of Laziness,” I suggest that this work may be considered a critical response to the violent dissolution of Yugoslavia in the 1990s.