The Manifesto of New Insincerity
Kostis Stafylakis, Eva Giannakopoulou, Alexis Fidetzis, Panos Sklavenitis
Weimar, Germany, June 19, 2019. Performance in the context of Die Route wird neu berechnet | Kultursymposium Weimar 2019 des Goethe Instituts
The performance “The Manifesto of New Insincerity” is a threefold ode to Xerxes as a screen of orientalist projection. The work’s subtext draws from the homonymous Manifesto written by Most Mechanics Are Crooks in 2019. The greco-persian wars have become part of a western genealogy of European defense of culture and democratic ideals from Oriental expansionism. Adding to the fantasy of Western superiority, the Persian God-King Xerxes has been reintroduced into pop culture as a decadent exotic pansexual narcissist that commits hubris against the valiant defenders of the West, through the work of comic book artist Frank Miller.
The performance weaves four elements together: The mythology of western identity VS the “barbarian other” in recent Hollywoodian cinema, Frank Miller’s production of comics on the story of Xerxes, and two contemporaneous manifestos that plead for a “New sincerity” in order to battle postmodern “irony”, “moral relativism” and “cultural appropriation”, purportedly exacerbated in the post-truth era. The four Mechanics distort today’s pseudo-romantic calls for a return to sincerity and empathy to tell the story of the Oriental queer figure of Xerxes – half product of an orientalist gaze, partly experienced, partly fetishized.
The first part refers to a young Xerxes, smeared as “barbarian” by Greek mothers. The second chapter presents the rise of Xerxes as a “metamodernist” hero, via adaptation and reworking of Frank Miller’s iconography. Here, Xerxes (and the Mechanics) punish the sea of Hellespont to avenge the collapse of the bridges he built. The third chapter of the performance is crafted after the fashion of calming ASMR video clips (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), featuring repetitive movements which produce rhythmic sounds.