By Florian Keller
Whilst Andy Kaufman succumbed by surprise to lung melanoma in 1984, a few of his enthusiasts believed that his loss of life used to be another complicated prank. Over the former decade, Kaufman had accomplished unbelievable status for his weird and wonderful antiperformances lip-synching the effective Mouse topic music, analyzing "The nice Gatsby" aloud in its entirety while humans anticipated comedy, asking viewers contributors to the touch a boil on his neck that at a loss for words, pissed off, or angry his audience.
In "Andy Kaufman," Florian Keller explores Kaufman s profession inside a broader dialogue of the ideology of the yankee Dream. Taking as his start line the 1999 biopic "Man at the Moon," Keller brilliantly decodes Kaufman in a manner that makes it attainable to know his radical schedule past avant-garde theories of transgression. As an entertainer, Kaufman submerged his id underneath a multiplicity of personas, enacting the yankee trust that the self can and will be eternally remade for the sake of happiness and good fortune. He did this so carefully and always, Keller argues, that he uncovered the interior contradictions of the USA s ideology of self-invention.
Keller posits that Kaufman provided a substantially diversified and maybe stronger good judgment of cultural feedback than did extra brazenly political comedians akin to Lenny Bruce. proposing shut readings of Kaufman s most important performances, Keller indicates how Kaufman fastened for the advantage of a frequently uncomprehending public a sustained and noteworthy critique of the USA s obsession with megastar and individualism.
Florian Keller is a fellow on the Institute of Cultural reports, institution of paintings and layout, collage of technologies and humanities, Zurich."
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Additional resources for Andy Kaufman: Wrestling with the American Dream
Thus, my thesis on Kaufman’s body of work evolves from the basic idea that his dissipation of any coherent identity must not be read as an index of some private libidinal obsessions on the part of this particular entertainer, let alone as a product of an “identity crisis” or any other psychological disorder that Kaufman was often said to suffer from. Instead, the dissimulation of his self in an array of personae is read as an effect of how his performances relate to America’s social imaginary. 18 – FUNNY OR NOT In this context, a phrase from Los Angeles Times critic Howard Rosenberg unwittingly offers a hint as to what might truly be at stake in Kaufman’s acts.
But what if Kaufman’s strategy of political critique was neither that of avant-gardist transgression nor postmodernist resistance? ” More recently, Foster seems to 40 – THE LIMITS OF TRANSGRESSION have taken recourse to the concept of a transgression, for in his book The Return of the Real (1996), the notion of an avant-gardist aesthetics of transgression surfaces again. Here, one of Foster’s theoretical enterprises is to counter a thesis from Jean Baudrillard, who has argued that the advent of multinational capitalism is in fact synonymous with an “end of subversion” within the domains of art and culture (quoted in Foster 1996, 128).
This implies that, in the Wnal instance, conceptual art is caught up in its own institutional frame, and its critical interrogation of representational codes remains a hermetical gesture concerned with nothing but its own trade. Consequently, an exclusive focus on Kaufman as conceptual artist weakens and obfuscates what may be the truly subversive edge of his performances. If Kaufman’s critique of postmodern culture is reduced to a strategy of resistance that consists in radically undermining his own presence as a performer, his work is implicitly denied the potential to shatter ideological discourses on a broader cultural scale.
Andy Kaufman: Wrestling with the American Dream by Florian Keller