“What art you laughing at?”: The power of humour and self-humiliation


What art you laughing at?”: The power of humour and self-humiliation is a residency led by Nicola McCartney with artists, architects, musicians and academics to investigate the agency of creative comedy via experimental works, talks, on-going research and performances. The exhibition will include work from the following;

Association of Art Historians | Steven Allan | Adam Bainbridge | The Parris Experience | Richard Gasper | Jennifer Hooper | Paul Kindersley | Nicola McCartney | Julian Milne | Janette Parris | David Price | Bob and Roberta Smith | Office S&M | Neal Tait | Penny Tristram | Urara Tsuchiya 

Collectively, their practices use humour as a means of provocation for thought and change. Individually, they address serious issues from gender stereotypes, the definition of success and the significance of art to racial inequality and social housing. What they all have in common is a good sense of humour and the ability to self-humiliate. This has a rich but relatively recent history and trajectory – from Duchamp to Paul McCarthy and the Guerrilla Girls. Why do artists use humour? What are the boundaries between funny and offensive or real melancholy? When did self-humiliation become a genre and the art world a joke, and why is it so important we don't take ourselves too seriously?

Participating artists will create new, individual and collaborative works on site, cumulatively forming an evolving exhibition. The project space will be open to the public as a means of transparency and a wider critical dialogue. Local school visits are encouraged and artists will talk about their practice in an open and accessible way.

Alongside the residency, a series of four weekly open nights will host performances, educational talks and music – from DJ gigs and project space crits to collaborative performances. These will be an opportunity for the artists to perform works in progress and to open up critical thought with an audience, and encourage their participation. Emerging academics from a variety of disciplines will also present their research in progress, via short paper presentations, on the concept of creative comedy and to comment on the work in situ. Follow the residency and events on @WhatArtULOL

Image: Liza, Can’t stop Dancing (oil on canvas) by Nicola McCartney