An Afternoon of Cuteness

The Cute: Documents of Contemporary Art

  • The Cute copy

    Cosima von Bonin, SCALLOPS (DARK VERSION), ROCKING, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. Photo: Stephan Wyckoff. 

Past Event

This event was on Saturday 9 July, 2pm

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Who determines the shifting definitions of cuteness, and why is it so often seen as minor in comparison to other art forms? Why is cuteness seen as subordinate, given its huge influence across popular culture and everyday aesthetics, not to mention the imprint it has made on artistic movements?  

Join us for a special afternoon with cultural theorist and feminist scholar Sianne Ngai, editor of Whitechapel Gallery’s most recent Documents of Contemporary Art The Cute, as she discusses the influence of cuteness with Professor Peter Osborne, artist and writer Erica Scourti, as well as author and researcher Larne Abse Gogarty. The event will be chaired by editor and researcher Louis Hartnoll. 

Pick up your copy at the Whitechapel Gallery Koenig Bookshop, and find out more about The Cute and the Documents of Contemporary Art series here.

About Sianne Ngai

Sianne Ngai is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of English at the University of Chicago and a recently elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She is the author of Ugly Feelings (2005), Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (2012), and Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form (2020). 

About Peter Osborne

Peter Osborne is Professor of Modern European Philosophy and Director of the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London. His books include Philosophy in Cultural Theory (2000), Conceptual Art (2002), Anywhere or Not at All: Philosophy of Contemporary Art (2013), The Postconceptual Condition (2018) and Crisis as Form, forthcoming from Verso in September 2022. 

About Louis Hartnoll

Louis Hartnoll is completing a Ph.D. in Philosophy at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), Kingston University London and has taught as an Associate Lecturer at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London since 2016. He studied aesthetics, art theory, philosophy, and visual cultures at the University of the Arts London, Goldsmiths, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, and the CRMEP. From 2021 to 2022 he was a Visiting Researcher at the Institut für Sozialforschung, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, and from 2016 to 2020 an editor at the Afterall Research Centre, London. His doctoral thesis, ‘So Much the Worse for the Fact’, examines notions of the social character of art in Theodor W. Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory. 


About Erica Scourti

Erica Scourti is an artist and writer, based in Athens and London. She has performed, exhibited and presented talks internationally, at spaces like High Line New York, Wellcome Collection, Kunsthalle Wien, Hayward Gallery, Munich Kunstverein, ICA London and the 7th Athens Biennale: Eclipse. Her writing has been published in Spells (Ignota Press, 2018) and Fiction as Method (Sternberg, 2017) amongst others, and she was guest editor of the Happy Hypocrite- Silver Bandage journal (2019).  She is currently undertaking a PhD in Goldsmiths’ Art Department, and is a Lecturer in BA Fine Art at Central St Martins.

About Larne Abse Gogarty
Larne Abse Gogarty is a Lecturer in History and Theory of Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. She recently published her first book, entitled Usable Pasts: Social Practice and State Formation in American Art (Brill, 2021) Her second book, entitled What we do is Secret: Contemporary Art and the Antinomies of Conspiracy will be published by Sternberg Press in Autumn 2022. Larne also regularly writes criticism for Art Monthly. In 2020 she co-edited a special issue on “Keywords for Marxist Art History” of the journal Kunst und Politik with Andrew Hemingway.