In Belated Advance: Jan Verwoert’s, ‘Cookie!’

June 16, 2014 |

By Calvin Siegel

Another mode of performing the ‘I Can’t’ in the key of the ‘I Can’ that art and poetry have always used to great effect is to create moments in which meaning remains provocatively latent. To embrace latency goes against the grain of the logic of high performance. The appraisal of latency  restores dignity to the unsaid, the unshown, and everything that can’t be dragged out into the open in the rush of high performance when the value of all our potentials appears to depend entirely on our capacity to actualize them right here, right now.

-Jan Verwoert, Exhaustion And Exuberance-Ways to Defy the Pressure to Perform, 2008


In today’s high-performance society it has become too easy to not only exchange the big picture for the necessities of the moment, but to use the caustic tools of irony and skepticism to mock its scope in general. In many of our art-related dialogues, we have become our own little islands, firing on all cylinders toward a goal that, perhaps we have misunderstood from the get-go.

Enter Jan Verwoert, the fresh faced, young scholar hailing from The Netherlands’ Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. Verwoert applies a surgeons analytics to such fundamental topics as the pressure to perform, love and relationships, and why criticism hurts.  His self-inspective style of writing and broad choice of themes serve as both a magnifying glass and a telescope, focusing intensely on basic, overlooked moments while connecting them to a bigger, more thorough picture than we have yet seen.

Jan Verwoert has a new collection of essays out called, Cookie! published by the Piet Zwart Institute and Sternberg Press, who also published his previous collection from 2007 titled, Tell Me What You Want, What You Really, Really Want.


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