Friday, May 04, 2007

Joking Aside - This is Serious Stuff

Tonight was both an interesting and surreal experience. I went along to the preview of the Joking Aside exhibition at the Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery, which explores how humour is used by artists to portray views on modern life relating to our conditioning. Subjects covered by the exhibition include social stereotypes, prejudices, and the dark side of human existence.

Due to its subject matter, this exhibition is not so easy on the eye as other exhibitions that have been held at the gallery and requires the visitor to delve a lot deeper
. Joking Aside is extremely thought-provoking and features a wide range of installations, including Henry William Bunbury's satirical works, photographic imagery, use of technology and jokes formed from children's magnetic letters.

Take a closer look at the audio-visual material which includes the Festival Residency range of black comedy sketches by Alex Pearl, called Little Deaths. For more info, check out Alex's blog. It is also worth spending time watching the videos of the comics who deliver their material without an audience present. Explore how their delivery changes as a result of no interactive feedback and how much your interest is retained in consequence.

A great addition to the night was a stand up routine by New Orleans comedian David Mullholland. I saw David compere at Kate Smurthwaite's gig at Benson Blakes on Tuesday and really enjoyed the performance. However, it was interesting how uneasy I felt addressing similar subject matters in the setting of the art gallery. Why was this?

I suppose unlike a darkened bar, the gallery was a more formal environment, which was very well lit. We were standing, rather than sitting and relaxing, listening to David address some uncomfortable subjects including sexually related jokes with some hard-core language.

At first glance, the content might have appeared inappropriate for the setting and the audience. However, take the opportunity again to look deeper. We were all adults and able to manage our own responsibility in understanding how serious these issues are. For me, David's performance was an artform and lived up to what I would expect of this exhibition, a live performance addressing serious and contentious issues, allowing us to explore an insight into our own feelings and reactions through the lighter side of comedy, no matter how uncomfortable that might have been.

On a much lighter note, it was great to catch up with a few familiar faces at the preview. I was pleased to bump into gorgeous ladies Lizzy and Terry of the Terry Fox studio. Terry Fox (right), an exclusive bridalwear and corset designer, is in the middle of making a gorgeous corset for me, which my husband ordered from her shop on St John's Street. Lizzy, is a talented portrait artist, who was involved in the Face of Suffolk programme that was recently screened on TV.

The night ended with a trip off to the Mason's Arms with a few friends and Resident Artist, Alex Pearl . We managed to cajole David Mulollhand into coming along before he headed back to London. A great opportunity to delve even further into the interesting mind of a comedian.