Humor, as E.B. White suggests, is often an uncooperative topic to explore critically. Like our bodies, it is idiosyncratic, can be awkward, weird or surprising, and it can be uncomfortable to scrutinize too closely. Yet much of the art of the 20th century depended upon it. Where would we be today without the rapier wit of the Dadaists, the irony of Pop, the subversive attitude of Funk, or the dark comic vision of the YBA’s? Humor, it turns out, is a vital instrument that can cut through pretensions, disarming viewers in the process, and lead to thought-provoking and timeless works of art. Within this context humor demands the attention of both scientific and non-scientific minds alike. First hinted at by Aristotle and then developed more deeply by Kant and Schopenhauer, the incongruity theory of humor holds that one finds something humorous when there is a mismatch between the conceptual understanding of something and the perception of it. This is a broad theory that encompasses many varieties of humor, including the absurd, parody, caricature, gallows humor, et al.
The American Museum of Ceramic Art (AMOCA) is proud to present The Incongruous Body, curated by Tim Berg who brings together fourteen artists including Robert Arneson, Molly Anne Bishop, Jeremy Brooks, Pattie Chalmers, Viola Frey, Future Retrieval, Alessandro Gallo, Taehoon Kim, Beth Lo, Elana Mann, Kristen Morgin, Kim Tucker, Matt Wedel, and Yoshitomo Nara who represent, stylize, hybridize, and deconstruct the human body to starkly different comic effect. Their work is politically poignant and socially engaging; it uses observational humor and storytelling; it challenges the status quo; it defies logic; it misdirects; it exploits cultural iconography and historical references, and most of all it lays bare the inner workings of their wit. In this exposure, it invites the viewer to revel in the awkward, to embrace the weird and to scrutinize a little bit too closely themselves and the world of which we are all a part.
Exhibiting August 22, 2018 through January 20, 2019 at American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona, CA.