Laugh-in: Art, Comedy, Performance

Friday, Jan 23, 2015-Sunday, Apr 19, 2015
Edgar Arceneaux
The Alchemy of Comedy...Stupid
2006, nine channel video installation. Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects © Edgar Arceneaux.
Tammy Rae Carland
I'm Dying Up Here (Strawberry Shortcake)
2010, chromogenic print, 30 x 40 in. Courtesy the artist and Jessica Silverman Gallery © Tammy Rae Carland.
Sara Greenberger Rafferty
Fig (Body Type O)
2012, direct substrate print on plastic, 65 x 48 in. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery © Sara Greenberger Rafferty.
Eric Garduño and Matthew Rana
The Right to Remain Silent Diptych, from The People v. Bruce (parrhesia)
2011, double sided silkscreen on nylon flags, 48 x 68 in. Courtesy of the artists, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Gothenburg, Sweden © Eric Garduño and Matthew Rana.
Stanya Kahn
Lookin Good, Feelin Good
2012, HD color video with sound. Courtesy of the artist and Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects © Stanya Kahn.
Jayson Musson
Art Thoughtz: How to Be a Successful Artist
2010, still from digital video. Courtesy of the artist and Fleisher/Ollman, Philadelphia ©Jayson Musson.
Tim Lee
Untitled (Steve Martin, 1972)
chromogenic print, 61 x 49 3/16 in. Collection of Andrew Leslie Heyward, Paris and London ©Tim Lee.

Past Events

Laugh-in Live

Wednesday, Feb 11, 2015 - 8:30 PM

Family ArtLAB: Absurd Art

Saturday, Feb 28, 2015 - 2:00 PM-4:00 PM

Laugh-in: Art, Comedy, Performance explores the recent turn toward comedic performance in contemporary art. The exhibition features twenty artists who engage the strategies and themes of stand-up comedy as a means to rethink questions of artistic performativity, audience participation, and public speech. If stand-up evokes the image of an isolated figure, spot-lit on a stage, this form of comedy resonates with contemporary artists precisely for its direct if uncertain relation to an audience or public. Artists today look to stand-up comedy as well for its emphatic embodiment and its ability to upend hierarchies and power relations. Indeed, stand-up offers a forum in which comics and artists alike may examine stereotypes and taboos, testing what can and can’t be said. The exhibition suggests that this format makes particular sense to artists at a moment when they—like citizens everywhere—are seeking new modes of public address (think of the widespread use of social media, for example, or the recent emergence of the human microphone within the context of the Occupy movement).

The title of Laugh-in intentionally conjures the cultural moment of the late 1960s and early 1970s and, as in its original iteration as the title of a comedy television program, resonates with the ‘sit-ins’ and ‘be-ins’ of that time—and with political currents in the present. Figures such as Lenny Bruce, Andy Kaufman, Richard Pryor, and a generation of female comedians including Carol Burnett, Goldie Hawn, and Gilda Radner, among many others, are touchstones for the artists in Laugh-in, and the exhibition considers such comics within the context of a larger interest on the part of contemporary artists in the decades of the 1960s and 1970s. That period not only saw the rise of stand-up comedy to mainstream prominence, but also crises of political legitimation that find echoes in our own time.

Artists include Cory Arcangel, Edgar Arceneaux, Jibz Cameron (Dynasty Handbag) and Hedia Maron, Tammy Rae Carland, Chan & Mann, Kasia Fudakowski, Eric Garduño and Matthew Rana, Jonn Herschend, Stanya Kahn, Tim Lee, Glenn Ligon, Carter Mull, Jayson Musson, Sara Greenberger Rafferty, Scott Reeder, and Michael Smith.

An evening of live experimental stand-up and comedic performance is being planned in conjunction with the exhibition. Check for details in the coming weeks.

Laugh-in: Art, Comedy, Performance is organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, with generous lead underwriting support from Laurie Mitchell and Brent Woods, and additional funding provided by the 2014 Art Auction. Institutional support of MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Fund.