Conversation between Tammy Rae Carland and Tina Takemoto
Please join us for a public conversation and q+a between Tammy Rae Carland and Tina Takemoto who will discuss Carland's exhibition 'Funny Face, I Love You'. Tina Takemoto is a writer and performance artist as well as an Associate Professor of visual studies at California College of the Arts.
ArtForum Critics' Pick: Tammy Rae Carland
804 Sutter Street @ the corner of Jones
September 10–October 23
In her latest solo exhibition, “Funny Face, I Love You,” Tammy Rae Carland’s commentary on the social role of female comedians evolves into a layered and reflexive statement on artistic perfomativity and audience participation. “Tragedy,” Mel Brooks once claimed, “is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.” In either case, the body becomes the site on which such actions take place. Indeed, a focus on embodiment is an appropriate theme for Carland, who has spent much of her career dealing with issues of gender and identity.
And yet, for her current show, it is the use of physical absence that reveals, via reduction and isolation, the mechanisms of humor and representation. In a suite of large-scale photographs titled “I’m Dying Up Here” (all works 2010), some images depict solo figures with obscured faces while others are emptied of human presence altogether. The lack of visible physiognomic expressions in the former works draws attention to the body; here connotations of physical vulnerability add to Carland’s scrutiny of stand-up as something that is nothing short of a gladiatorial Roman holiday. And in Punch Line, phrases from routines by well-known female comedians, including Phyllis Diller and Joan Rivers, are redacted by the use of mats and frames, producing a severed effect similar to that of the faceless images by drawing attention to the surrounding web of projected cultural meaning on which humor relies.
By various degrees, Carland subtracts from the performative body until we are left with its skeletal form. Sharing the exhibition title, a ceramic replica of the comedic trinity (stool, mic with stand, bottle of water) positioned in the gallery window awaits both an unseen audience and a performer. Carland, in this third act, reveals by their very absence the necessary participation of objectification and subjection implicit in comedic performance. Indeed, for comedy to succeed, someone has to be the butt of a joke. - Joseph Akel