Sianne Ngai: Zaniness

“the zany more specifically evokes the performance of affective labor—the production of affects and relationships—as it comes to increasingly trouble the very distinction between work and play. This explains why this ludic aesthetic has a noticeably unfun or stressed-out layer to it. Contemporary zaniness is not just an aesthetic about play but about work, and also about precarity, which is why the threat of injury is always hovering about it.” Adam Jasper and Sianne Ngai, “OUR AESTHETIC CATEGORIES: AN INTERVIEW WITH SIANNE NGAI. The cute, the interesting, and the zany“, in Cabinet Magazine, Fall 2011

Sianne Ngai: Cuteness

“Cuteness is a way of aestheticizing powerlessness. It hinges on a sentimental attitude toward the diminutive and/or weak, which is why cute objects—formally simple or noncomplex, and deeply associated with the infantile, the feminine, and the unthreatening—get even cuter when perceived as injured or disabled. So there’s a sadistic side to this tender emotion […] The prototypically cute object is the child’s toy or stuffed animal.” Adam Jasper and Sianne Ngai, “OUR AESTHETIC CATEGORIES: AN INTERVIEW WITH SIANNE NGAI. The cute, the interesting, and the zany“, in Cabinet Magazine, Fall 2011