On view March 30 – April 27
Delaware County Community College, Media, PA
Opening Thursday, April 7
3pm, performance by Guy Richards Smit, talk by Christian Viveros-Faune
Julien Bismuth , Ethan Breckenridge, Steven and Billy Blaise Dufala, Erica Eyres, John Giorno, George Horner, Kysa Johnson, Liz Magic Laser and Dafna Maimon, Jillian McDonald, Guy Richards Smit, Deb Sokolow
In his Anthology of Black Humor (1939) consummate French surrealist Andre Breton coined a term for a particular type of comedy: ironic, absurd, and often macabre. The seemingly paradoxical fact that humor can provide a way of coping with the most tragic and incomprehensible of circumstances—that death could be the punchline—was, in Breton’s words, a revelatory “lightning bolt.” What we call dark, black, or gallows humor made up a cornerstone of the Surrealist project—an effective tool to mock both the agents of warmongering and the complacent bourgeois. The same tactics have been central to the cultural politics of other movements, including Dada, Situationism, Fluxus, performance art, and feminism. Such humor, a provocative, alienated response to a culture that habitually sanctifies horrors, is still strategically deployed in artistic practice today.
Terminal Jest brings together a selection of a much larger field of emerging and established artists working across various media (painting, sculpture, video, and performance), all of whom exploit the slippages between horror and laughter, between vulnerability and megalomania. Their work operates as a critique of contemporary culture through mimesis, skewering and subverting a range of paradigms: the machinations of geopolitics, the twisted hierarchies of the art market, the simultaneous connection and alienation of social media, and the ideologies perpetuated through popular culture, from Hollywood to B-movie horror. Provocative without being gratuitous, illuminating without being moralistic, and simultaneously serious and hilarious, these works and practices posit questions without easy answers on our relationship to life, death, our society, and ourselves.