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I Forgot to Laugh: Humor & Contemporary Art

August 15 -

Exhibition overview

​Humor is central to our experience of the world. Humor helps us build social bonds, release tension, and navigate difficult situations. In times of unrest, humor can be an entertaining way to escape reality. It also offers a surreptitious avenue to confront change and challenge the status quo. Humor, like art, presents an alternative means of expressing criticism that can’t socially, or sometimes legally, be expressed otherwise.


Historically, art has employed humor at the most (in)opportune times. In the face of war, tumult, and cultural change, artists have often reveled in the ridiculous. Marcel Duchamp’s infamous readymade sculptures emerged during the First World War. Conceptual Art, with its text-based puns and tongue-in-cheek intellectualism, took hold in the 1960s amidst the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement. The works in this exhibition demonstrate how artists in recent years have used humor to explore identity, social injustice, and the absurdity of modern life. By subverting expectations through surprising materials, challenging the notion of fine art, and using humor to create space for taboo subjects, these artists show the power of tackling serious topics with levity.


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