September 22, 2016
6:00 – 8:00 PM
162 West 21 Street #3N, NYC, NY 10011
LaTableRonde (LTR) is a forum for the discussion of contemporary social and cultural issues. LTR organizes six un-moderated roundtable discussions that provide 30 participants the opportunity for informal intellectual exchange on a pre-arranged topic in pre-defined timeframes of 90 minutes. Each roundtable consists of 20 people invited by the prompter who frames the topic and 10 people invited by CPI. No one is introduced or informed of the identities of the participants at each roundtable so that the topic of discussion is not compromised. Last year we had 126 participants attend five such events. While these sessions are recorded and transcribed, the material is not posted electronically; instead, it is distributed to participants with the instruction that they should feel free to share the information with others by means other than electronic communication. Our view is that the way the information is shared — via interpersonal exchanges — is vital to maintaining the integrity and value of the process and content. This is because the outcome of an LTR are the ideas and concepts that each participant helped to formulate, contributed to, and acquired through the means of exchange itself. Because of the portability of the format, we believe that LTR is an exemplary model that others can emulate. Reciprocally, because participation in an LTR session is by invitation only, we cannot measure our larger influence except to note the increasing number of informal requests that we have received from individuals wishing to be invited, and the propensity for the LTRs to encourage ongoing engagement and exploration, one result of which has been the emergence of a secondary level program, WorkGroup.
Topic: On Political Incorrectness
Race, class, gender, and the body can be spear points of contention, but also provide rich mines for discussion of forbidden subjects in both art and humor. While mainstream audiences embrace “politically incorrect” comedians like Louis CK, museums and universities become increasingly conservative. What Mikhail Bakhtin calls “unofficial elements of speech” — abuses, curses, profanities, and improprieties — allow proximity to discomfort and ideas that might be at odds with our values. What can be learned from vernacular humor (particularly insult humor) as a model for how to deal with conflict symbolically and across boundaries? Are these oral traditions still relevant in creating closeness in an era of global movement and cultural dispersion? What is the role of the institution in mediating discourses around uncomfortable topics and reflecting culture?
The Prompt will be delivered by Ben Kinsley. Ben Kinsley’s projects have ranged from choreographing a neighborhood intervention into Google Street View, directing surprise theatrical performances inside the homes of strangers, organizing a paranormal concert series, staging a royal protest, investigating feline utopia, and planting a buried treasure in the streets of Mexico City (yet to be found). He holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University. His work has been exhibited internationally at venues such as: Queens Museum, NYC; Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland; Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh; Flux Space, Philadelphia; Katonah Museum of Art, NY; Green on Red Gallery, Dublin; Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina, Florence; La Galería de Comercio, Mexico City; Catalyst Arts, Belfast; and ZKM Museum of Contemporary Art, Karlsruhe. With Jerstin Crosby and Jessica Langley, Kinsley developed Janks Archive, an ongoing investigation of insult humor —an ancient oral tradition—from cultures around the world. The place and date of collection, translation, personal or cultural associations, and narrative of where the individual first heard the phrase, are included with the video documentation on the project website and Tumblr.
Supplemental prompt materials
Slavoj Žižek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism
Excerpt from “A Slap in the Face” by William B. Irvine
Interview with Elijah Wald about his book “The Dozens, a History of Rap’s Mama”
“Insults and Folk Humor: Verbal transgression in Sheng’s Mchongoano” by Peter Githinji
“On Joking Relationships” by A. R. Radcliffe-Brown