The Danish edition of Sianne Ngai’s Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting is the third title in Bibliotek for ny kunstteori (Library of New Art Theory) – a new book series with seven volumes scheduled so far, all of them Danish translations of writings by some of the leading contemporary art scholars and theorists. The series, which is published in a collaboration between the publishing house Informations Forlag and the New Carlsberg Foundation, aims to inspire a wider public conversation about contemporary art and art theory through translations of recent and pioneering art theory. In autumn 2020, the first two volumes in the series were released: Hito Steyerl’s essay collection Toldfri Kunst (Duty Free Art) and Juliane Rebentisch’s Samtidskunstens Teorier (Theories of Contemporary Art; originally published in German as Theorien der Gegenwartskunst).

Bibliotek for ny kunstteori #3: Sianne Ngai

‘Zany’, ‘cute’ and ‘interesting’ are aesthetic categories that permeate postmodern culture. They dominate contemporary art and consumer goods as well as our way of speaking about the ambivalent emotions cultural manifestations give rise to. In her 2012 book Our Aesthetic Categories, Ngai rethinks aesthetic categories and presents a theory about how we use these categories to deal with the hypercommercialized, mass-mediated and performance-driven late capitalist world. She approaches these topics with the same sense of seriousness that philosophers have previously brought to bear in analyses of the beautiful and the sublime.

Sianne Ngai (b. 1971) is a professor of English Literature at the University of Chicago and the author of several books.

Meet Sianne Ngai

To celebrate the release of the Danish edition of Our Aesthetic Categories, Informations Forlag, the New Carlsberg Foundation, the Danish Arts Foundation and SMK will host a book launch on Thursday, 20 May, at 16.00–18.00 in the SMK auditorium. Here, Maria Kjær Themsen, art critic at the Danish newspaper Information, interviews Sianne Ngai via a video link, followed by a panel debate with the participation of Isak Winkel Holm, professor at the University of Copenhagen; Mette Houlberg Rung, art interpreter at SMK; and Mathias Kryger, art critic at the Danish newspaper Politiken.

Admission: DKK 50 / Free admission for students. In addition to a ticket, you will also need to present a valid Covid pass to be admitted. The ticket also gives you access to current exhibitions at SMK – National Gallery of Denmark. Read more / buy your ticket.

Samtidskunsten Forfra – a podcast series

In a supplement for Bibliotek for ny kunstteori, a new series of seven podcasts titled Samtidskunsten Forfra (Contemporary Art From the Top) aims to illuminate contemporary art, including where it comes from and what it wants. Click here to read and hear more (in Danish only).