Young Joon Kwak, Christine Shan Shan Hou, Marnie Weber (cur. Jeanne Dreskin)
glimmered through the actual square
March 7–April 30, 2020

The rhythm of laughter can cut through chaos like a blaring alarm. If offered generously, even some light expulsions of air through the nostrils can prick a dense panic and inflect it with levity. As the panic deflates, its affects redirect themselves, subsuming the dreadful in the absurd. Unexpected or undesired laughter deemed “inappropriate,” on the other hand, can also stoke destabilization and alienation, sowing seeds of anxiety among those who aren’t in on the joke.

Mikhail Bakhtin’s 1960s account of carnival speaks to laughter’s ambivalences. Bakhtin describes medieval public squares in carnival times as ephemeral utopias where class hierarchies and moralistic dualisms upend themselves. As crowds perform ritualized laughter deriding the king, he publicly removes his crown and submits himself to mass censure. The populace laughs. The monarch laughs with them. He indulges this conditional ridicule, knowing he'll reclaim his crown and restore order at the festival’s end.

In our contemporary mutations of these scenes, a king is already a clown when he cultivates his own debasement on the daily world stage. His unrelenting shamelessness deflates the decrowning’s spectacular potential. Efforts to subvert his enterprise along prescribed channels of power become ineffectual, impotent. Our carnival is well underway.

This tumult draws on insidious histories and disperses like a rhizome across our entire visual field. Efforts to undercut it, therefore, must assume equally intractable forms. Works in this exhibition locate the volatility of these efforts in familiar spaces: dancefloors, monuments, suburban homes, research labs, suitcases, fingertips. At these sites, disoriented relational exchanges occur. Subjects perform withering gestures, offer unacceptable gifts, confront old pains, submit to new pleasures. The square, once a stage for circumscribed transgressions, becomes a limitless arena in which everyday struggles and possibilities of forging one’s own alignments emerge exuberantly, glimmering.

Deli Gallery - All Rights Reserved 2020
Deli Gallery - All Rights Reserved 2020