Vincent W.J. van Gerven Oei
Irony is a deliberate strategy intended merely
to create distance, merely to be able to look the
other way, merely to avoid viewing the essence
of visual art, literature, theory or opinion – as
a creator or spectator – in its direct form.
Irony is a tactic employed by the lazy, cowardly
and idle. It is an attempt, a wish, not to be held
accountable for what is said, written or done:
it was after all intended aloofly, with a pale
smile, a grotesque slight curling of the lips
which feigns insight, but in a duality expresses
nothing more than inability: inability to make
a statement and assume full responsibility for
Irony is an expression of fear and, at the
same time, a gratuitous display of ostensible
intelligence. It stands, on the one hand, for
the wish to remain a spectator, the suggestion
of neutrality, and on the other hand, for
the will to nonetheless be recognized as having
an opinion or a taking a stance. It is a façade:
the affirmation of not wanting to face the
complex network that, in a few brave cases,
one dares to call security.
Irony is a diversion that leaves improper space
for the observer to distance himself, space that
the observer fills with ironic reflection, which
overshadows any substantial contemplation.
It is the means used in approaching a matter
so as not to be subjected to its full implication
out of fear, out of laziness, out of boredom.
Irony is a worthless choice of juxtaposing a
message with an opposing image or statement,
with a renouncing tone or dismissive gesture,
which leaves everyone’s stance undisputed,
and yet expresses that one has understood it:
how shameless! Shameless because, in doing
so, one prefers the indisputability of an idea or
status to an actual critique of the parameters
with which we approach the world.
Irony is a feint. It insinuates the presence of
potential meaning and negates it at the very
same time. It is nothing other than an escape,
a fear: a fear, in fact, of standing unconditionally
behind a recognition, a declaration
of previously mentioned parameters; a fear
of actually committing to this statement or,
at least, to the importance of making a
as an act in itself.