Playboys & Killjoys
What Humor is, not all the tribe
Of logic-mongers can describe.
AMBACH & RICE is pleased to present Playboys & Killjoys, a group exhibit that examines the role of artist as comic in contemporary art.
Playboys & Killjoys derives its title from Harry Levin’s essay on the theory and practice of comedy, dividing comedy’s protagonists in two categories, that of the playboy whom we laugh with and the killjoy whom we laugh at.
One could argue that humor is evoked more readily than explained. This paradigm is reminiscent of visual arts’ tendency to show rather than tell, to adopt oblique and disparate strategies in an effort to penetrate that which language cannot articulate. The most evident art historical examples of the deployment of humor as conceptual strategy can be found in the Dada and Fluxus movements. This exhibit questions humor’s legibility in an increasingly globalized art community in which movements have been replaced by trends. Playboys & Killjoys includes artists utilizing humor as a departure point with varying motives and outcomes, exploring both the physical and cerebral manifestations of comedy, illuminating the surface, psychology and subtext of the joke.
Throughout time artists and writers have reflected on their life and position in society through the guise of humor, providing alternative means to address subject matter serious and absurd. Much like the comic, the artist often assumes the role of the outsider, an alchemist transforming seemingly mundane observations into acute critiques of society and institutions. Humor provides a sense of place or belonging within a society and in this regard can be attributed as site-specific, its resonance highly dependent upon an empathetic audience bound by collective sorrow and joy. As Harry Levin asserts “the capacity for laughter is doubtless a universal quality, one of the few that differentiates human beings from beasts. But the mode whereby it manifests itself and the objects that stimulate it seem to be capable of multiform variation: national, regional, social, sexual, cultural, ethnic.”
Humor’s relevance is reliant upon its fleeting position in time. Charlie Chaplin most likely won’t arouse a laugh from a child reared on Sponge Bob Squarepants. This occurrence inevitably makes this exhibit a limited document of the visual and phenomenological comedy of our time. In gathering an international and multigenerational selection of artists Playboys & Killjoys seeks to challenge and investigate humor’s ability or failure to transcend cultural and contextual boundaries.
Raymond Pettibon was born in 1957 in Tucson, Arizona. Recent exhibits include Works on Paper from the MCA Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Collecting Biennials, Whitney Museum, New York, in addition to recent solo exhibits at Sadie Coles HQ, London, UK, and Gladstone Gallery, Brussels, BE. His work can be found in numerous museum collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL, Tate Modern, London, UK and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY. He currently lives and works in Hermosa Beach, California. His work appears courtesy of Regen Projects, Los Angeles, CA.
Sara Greenberger Rafferty was born in Chicago, Illinois. She received her BFA, from Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, and her MFA from Columbia University in 2005. Recent solo exhibitions include Artist in Residence Exhibition, Eli Marsh Gallery, Fayerweather Hall, Amherst College, Amherst, MA, Sara Greenberger Rafferty: Tears, Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY, Bananas, The Kitchen, New York, NY, organized by Matthew Lyons, and Sara Greenberger Rafferty, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, NY. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. Her work appears courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY.
Markus Vater was born in 1970 in Düsseldorf, Germany. He studied Art History and Philosophy at University of Trier, Trier, Germany, and received his MA from Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Germany and the Royal College of Art, London, United Kingdom. Recent solo exhibits include Spot on 05. Solo Projekt im Rahmen von 4 Präsentationen. Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, Germany, A show about things that are there because they are not there, like a shadow or death, ZINGERpresents, London, United Kingdom, and Rudolf Scharpf Galerie des Wilhelm Hack Museums, Ludwigshafen, Germany. He currently lives and works in London. His work appears courtesy of Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf, Germany.
Erwin Wurm was born in 1954 in Bruck an der Mur / Styria, Austria. Since 2002 he has been a Professor at the Institue of Fine Art and Muiltimedia, Department of Sculpture and Multimedia, University of Applied Art, Vienna, Austria. Recent solo exhibits include Erwin Wurm: Liquid Reality, Kunstmuseum Bonn, Bonn, Germany, Erwin Wurm, Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Austria, Memoria, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac Paris, Paris, France. His works can be found in numerous public collections including the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA. He currently lives and works in Vienna and Limburg, Austria.
Eric Yahnker was born in Torrance, California. He received his BFA from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, California. Recent exhibits include Fuckheads, Kinkead Contemporary, Los Angeles, CA (curated by Angela Dufresne), Nervous Surf, Galerie Jeanroch Dard, Paris France (solo) Naughty Teens/Garbanzo Beans, AMBACH & RICE, Seattle WA (solo) and Baker's Dozen, Torrance Art Museum, Torrance, CA. Upcoming exhibits include a solo project at Kunsthalle L.A., Los Angeles, CA and Veel/Plenty, Voorkamer, Lier, Belgium. He currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Eric Yahnker is represented by AMBACH & RICE, Seattle, USA.