ARTICLE 021: NO JOKE – The Matter of Humour in Contemporary Art (MACM)

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal
Max and Iris Stern International Symposium 10

Humour is a form that has always found a particular echo in art and that resonates even more strongly in contemporary art. Comedy – whether it involves mockery or parody – gives us permission to laugh, but our laughter can make us uncomfortable and uneasy. Indeed, artists use humour in such an ambivalent way that, with some works, we often do not know whether we are laughing at ourselves or at others, whether to laugh out loud or chuckle quietly to ourselves. They test our limits, but they also assert their solidarity by making fun of certain political subjects.

In this symposium on the matter of humour, the Musée probes the ways it is manifested and how it is handled by artists, since demonstrating a sense of humour in today’s world has without a doubt become a necessary attitude. Its omnipresence in the sphere of contemporary art is the focus of the symposium Sans blague / No Joke. We closely examine artistic practices that mobilize the mechanisms of humour, and shed light on new forms that have emerged recently, including experimental comedy, which falls somewhere between performance art and stand-up. We will also discuss what is happening in the social sciences, and in art history in particular, since humour has been established as a research topic and become a subject of interest shared by numerous curators, generating a host of group exhibitions over the past two decades.

More info on the symposium.


Text courtesy of Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal