Azul De Monte: ow! that’s cute!

‘Aeroponic’ – root systems nourished by air – Acts is the name given to the nomadic Dutch Art Institute’s final & festive iteration of the two year long so-called Kitchen* trajectory. Aeroponic Acts are conversations-in-a-form. Each presenter addresses one question as a practice of engagement.

Here you will find the documentation of Azul De Monte's presentation as filmed by Baha Görkem Yalım, followed  by a written report, authored by Harun Morrison, which includes a summary of the spoken comments by esteemed guest respondents Barby Asante, Lisette Lagnado and Momtaza Mehri. 

ow! that’s cute!

Azul's question: Can cuteness be transformed through autopoietic  processes as a tool against enclosing systems of representation?

Azul's introduction:Video and reading performance that will continue the presenter's recent research on the cute and the erotic in animation and drawing. A publication made in collaboration with Lacey Verhalen (DAI, 2022) will be handed out by the end of the presentation.

Performers: Azul De Monte, Emmeli Persons and Eli Witteman 

Harun's report: There’s a monitor centre stage, the playing of 8-bit style music made by Azul herself. We hear a ‘cute voice’ that sounds as though it is modulated. The deceptively simple text purposely moves between an over-emphasized ‘baby language’ and ‘South-American-Spanish-speaking-English-as-a-second-language’ mannerisms through which she’s able to toy with worn-out stereotypes. ‘I’m glad you made itttt.’ / ‘Aren’t your wings heavy? They are dropping real thick this time.’ We hear a  Disney-esque syrupy song. Azul enters the stage microphone in hand like a Manga princess. There are nods to Seapunk in her aesthetic. Smoke under a pink light, punctuated by irregular breathing. “I googled FREE FULL HD NO CENSORSHIP BEST HENTAI MOVIES OF LAST YEAR.” Sticky. Shiny Fluids. Hentai animation aesthetics are incorporated into the scenography: fragments of video, orbs of light on watery backgrounds. We’re asked to close our eyes: our hands reach out to find a plastic sealed zine in a lubricant oil. Two more people join the stage and read an erotic text. Azul tantalisingly waves a phallic silver wand. SWELL CREST SOAK REPEAT. Orgasmic sighs. Feeling Cute. Might Delete Later.

Momtaza MehriI appreciated the cute and kitsch elements in a seemingly patronising aesthetic.  This addressed the social space as quite slippery. You’re never alone in spaces that are quite that intimate or aggressive. It was soaked in an E-girl vibe and played into a notion of childishness. The reference to the Never-Ending Story style fantasy – captures this critical edge. / I read this as a deconstruction of hentai and ‘camgirl’ aesthetics. The liquidity of the performance had a wistful air – I found it very hypnotic. I enjoyed the scented oil. I wanted to see more of the world of the bedroom, being plugged in./ What happens when cuteness becomes a weapon?

Barby Asante: Why has performance become so prominent, why do we perform in the art context and what are we trying to do with that? I’m thinking about strategies of performance. Ways in which people claim a body politics around being cute. There are languages of cute. The way black, queer and fat bodies refer to each other online as cute. What are the tissues really for? As a final thought. . .Who is allowed to be cute?

Lisette Lagnado: I was paying attention to the narrativity and the text. Objects are present but not used. The strongest element for me was the use of entertainment, fiction and politics. But I also found it so ambiguous. My question would be what comes after?How is to be living in a system that is repetitive, even if it's auto-poetic?  I hesitate to suggest that it’s a repetition of sameness and not a becoming of something else.


Azul De Monte's "ow! that’s cute!" was presented before live audience at the Posttheater in Arnhem on August 26th.

Find the overview of all 24 AEROPONIC ACTS 2021 here: UNDERSTORY CHANT

About Azul De Monte