“Laugh Back” Exhibition

Smack Mellon

poster for “Laugh Back” Exhibition
[Image: Jen Liu, still from Pink Slime Caesar Shift, 2018. Single-channel 4K video, two-channel audio; 24:20 min. Courtesy of the artist and Upstream Gallery, Amsterdam]

This event has ended.

Participating Artists: Farah Al Qasimi, Natalie Baxter, Deborah Castillo, Kristina Davis, Dynasty Handbag, Jesse Harrod, INNER COURSE (Rya Kleinpeter and Tora López), Lady Parts Justice League’s Vagical Mystery Tour, Jen Liu, Rachel Mason, Jan Mun, Luis Mejico, Madhini Nirmal, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Katherine Simóne Reynolds, Andréa Stanislav.

Smack Mellon presents Laugh Back, a group exhibition that probes the transgressive potential of laughter to threaten authority. In an increasingly tense political landscape, laughing is an everyday gesture capable of unsettling norms, subverting power, and challenging dominant systems. Laugh Back focuses on the diverse cultural production of artists who engage the defiant possibilities of humor, satire, and the absurd as subversive tools for cultural change.

Focusing specifically on the practices of self-identifying women, Laugh Back reframes the trope of humorless feminist resistance by emphasizing deployments of the absurd that disrupt presumed stable discourses.

Speaking directly to the contemporary sociopolitical climate, the works in Laugh Back examine gender, race, politics, and labor from multicultural perspectives to uncover a current, uniquely feminist brand of humor that is an increasingly threatened and threatening vehicle to speak truth to power.

The artists in Laugh Back utilize various comedic genres to create a symbolic space for transformation in which structures of power and repression are recognized and confronted. These women use humor as a means to upset, if only for a visceral moment, established ways of being.

Lindsey O’Connor is an exhibition organizer and arts writer living in New York City. She is currently the Biennial Co-Coordinator at the Whitney Museum of American Art and has held past positions at the
Guggenheim Museum, American Federation of Arts, and Biennial of the Americas. She has curated and co-curated exhibitions with Greatmore Studios in Cape Town, South Africa, and the NLE Curatorial Lab in New York. Her writing has been published in Hyperallergic, CAA.Reviews, Art Papers, and Ada: Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology.


Saturday, July 14; 7:00 PM
During the exhibition opening, Deborah Castillo will perform Slapping Power, in which she mauls two male busts symbolic of legacies of colonialism and patriarchy, during the exhibition opening.

Every Thursday-Saturday; 1-6 PM
INNER COURSE will activate their installation modeled after Lucy and Ricky Ricardo’s bedroom in the sitcom I Love Lucy. The artists will be bed bound, and visitors are invited to sit and read from a selection of predatory books from INNER COURSE’s library.

Friday, July 27, 8:00 PM
Stand-Up Comedy
The Lady Parts Justice League will host an extension of its Vagical Mystery Tour, a night of stand-up comedy and activism focusing on reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy. A post-show talkback with abortion providers and activists will offer tangible ways to fight back and support local clinics. $10 suggested donation; comedians to be announced.

Thursday, August 2; 6:30 PM
Exhibition Tour
Guest curator Lindsey O’Connor will lead a tour of Laugh Back with exhibition artists Natalie Baxter and Madhini Nirmal.

Saturday, August 11; 4:00 PM
INNER COURSE will present an evening of screwball readings from their private library; celebrity guest readers to be announced.

Saturday, August 18; 4:00 PM
Performance and Closing Reception
Dynasty Handbag will blur the boundaries of comedy and art in an outlandish performance followed by a closing reception.



from July 14, 2018 to August 19, 2018

Opening Reception on 2018-07-14 from 18:00 to 20:00

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