Responding to the exhibition of Mika Rottenberg, and an upcoming display of poet and songwriter Ivor Cutler’s archive, this discussion explores the nature of humour and absurdity in contemporary art through academic research and artistic practice.
The discussion will explore how, and if, absurdity can be claimed as a mode of critique. A panel of speakers, including artists and academics, will also reflect on the ripeness of its aesthetic at a time in which politics seems ever more irrational, and labour and production increasingly abstracted.
Absurdism, as discussed by writers such as Albert Camus and Henri Bergson, recognised the repetitions of daily life under industrialism as comic. Through recognising them as such, one could resist and fight them. As industrialisation has given way to accelerated and globalised forms of production and consumption the category of the absurd seems apt, but how has it transformed for this specific moment in time?
Jennifer Higgie is a writer and editorial director of frieze. She is the also editor of The Artist’s Joke, and has published a novel, Bedlam and a children’s book, ‘There’s Not One’.
Dr Chantal Faust is an artist, writer and academic. Recent exhibitions include Solitary Pleasures, Freud Museum London; Natur Blick, Koppel Project Hive; and Antipodean Emanations, Monash Gallery of Art, all 2018. Faust is a Senior Tutor in Research and the Critical & Historical Studies Senior Liaison Tutor in the School of Arts & Humanities (SoAH) at the Royal College of Art; editor-in-chief of PROVA, the annual RCA SoAH Research Journal and leader of the SoAH Absurdity Research Group.
Bedwyr Williams lives and works in Caernarfon, Wales. Solo exhibitions include “My Bad,” Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK; “Nimrod,” Oriel Davies Gallery, Wales, 2011, Ceri Hand Gallery, 2009; “‘The Jinx,” 1857, Oslo, 2010; “Methodist to my Madness,” The Bakery, Annet Gelink, Amsterdam, 2009; and “No More Mr Nice Guy,” Store Gallery, London, 2008. Recent group exhibitions include “ERNSTE TIERE: PETRIT HALILAJ, JUDITH HOPF, BEDWYR WILLIAMS,” Kunstverein Bonn, Germany, 2011; “SHOW,” Jerwood Space, London, 2011; “The Eccentric, The Idiosyncratic and The Unpredictable,” Schirman & de Beaucé, Paris, 2010; “Gallery, Galerie, Galleria,” Norma Mangione Gallery, Turin, Italy, 2010; and “Behind,” Monitor Gallery, Rome, Italy 2008. Williams represented Wales at the 2013 Venice Biennial.