Opening: Thursday 31 August 2017 6-8pm with floor talk of the artist
The Museum of Modern Comedy in Art (MoMCo) – A Proposal is either an artwork in the guise of a speculative museum, or a museum dressed up as a contemporary installation. Which of these it will turn out to be remains to be seen.
The modern avant-garde is commonly defined as a series of groundbreaking, heroic and grave departures. By contrast, the Museum of Modern Comedy in Art (MoMCo) posits that the avant-garde could just as well be understood as comedy, albeit a secretive or obtuse form of comedy.
MoMCo is dedicated to highlighting, researching and mediating the hidden, comedic aspects of modern and contemporary art. The classical notion of reckless, avant-garde bravado has been largely debunked, not least for its implicit sexism and open Eurocentrism. But the underlying comedic mechanisms deserve re-examination as they still have the potential to profoundly reframe art, reality, our perception of ourselves and others, and the world we so awkwardly share. They may still represent the best shot we have at radical imagination and true innovation.
MoMCo aspires to act on three, interconnected planes: as an art historical institution amending the conventional record on avant-garde achievements; as a future collection of modernist art works; and as a curatorial initiative, hosting temporary exhibitions, dedicated to tracing the complex and veiled genealogies, from comedic modernism to contemporary art.
For this first exhibition, MoMCo is presented in the form of a tentative historical chart and a series of clay figurines depicting key-moments in bona fide art history. We thus witness the moment when Kazimir Malevich transformed a cartoon print into one of the most revered modernist icons or when Mierle Laderman Ukeles, looking at a pile of stinking garbage, suddenly saw abject labour as new art.
Furthermore, MoMCo is proud to present Resuscitations, its first exhibition of contemporary art, comprising video works by Agnieszka Polska (PL/DE), Roee Rosen (IL/US), Sally O’Reilly (UK), Gernot Wieland (A/DE), and Olav Westphalen (DE/US).
Resuscitations will be screened at intervals, punctuating the audience’s viewing experience. While the works in Resuscitations are widely divergent, they are all in some manner preoccupied with bringing something or someone inanimate to life: a word, a golem, a dead philosopher, an artist’s radically personal collection of favourite objects and materials, or a set of simple wooden building blocks. Each weaves back and forth across the categorical division between something that is and something that is not yet. Read more about Resuscitations here.
The Museum of Modern Comedy in Art (MoMCo) – A Proposal has grown out of an ongoing conversation between artist Olav Westphalen and curator Lívia Páldi. Between 2013 and 2016, Westphalen and Páldi co-organised a series of shows, events and public discussions, culminating in the jointly edited book Dysfunctional Comedy: A Reader. This publication brought together a group of artists and comedians to reflect on the various strategies and traditions of latent comedy in art, and on their ability to replace prevalent norms, attitudes and narratives with new configurations.
Olav Westphalen, ‘Brian O’Doherty takes an ECG reading of Marcel Duchamp’s heartbeat (1966)’ clay, 2017 (detail)
Exhibition views, “The Museum of Modern Comedy in Art (MoMCo) – A Proposal”, 2017
Olav Westphalen, ‘Mierle Laderman Ukeles invents ‘Maintenance Art (1968)’, 2017
Exhibition view with video work by Gernot Wieland, Portrait of Karl Marx as a Young God (2009), Project Arts Centre, Dublin, 2017
Exhibition view with video work by Agnieszka Polska, My Favourite Things (2010), 2017
Exhibition view with video work by Sally O’Reilly, All the Knowledge in Age Concern (2016), 2017
Exhibition view with video work by Roee Rosen, ‘The Buried Alive Group Videos’: Animation Chant for a Hybrid (2013), 2017
Exhibition view with video work by Olav Westphalen, The Tunnels (2015), 2017
All photos: Ros Kavanagh
Photo courtesy: Project Arts Centre, Dublin
The Museum of Modern Comedy in Art (MoMCo) – A Proposal
Sculpture production: Rachel Fallon and Olav Westphalen
Research: Olav Westphalen and Carla Garlaschi
Design: Peter Maybury
Proofreading: Kate Heffernan
MoMCo Consultants: Gerrit Gohlke, Andreas Koll (Valentin-Karlstadt-Musäum), Sally O’Reilly, Roee Rosen, Gernot Wieland, Gregory Williams
Curator: Lívia Páldi
Special thanks to the artists, Diana Baldon, Sebastian Cichocki, Olivia Berkowicz, Rachel Fallon, Janice Hough, Sarah Glennie, Seán Kissane, Peter Maybury, Lisa Moran, Ian Thompson, and the Project Arts Centre team.
Olav Westphalen is a German-American artist whose work frequently takes the form of games, entertainment or cartoons. He exposes the cultural blind spots and hypocrisies of the social and cultural contexts he inhabits. He plays both sides of the high-low divide, producing mass-media comedy and cartoons, while showing in museums and galleries such as The Whitney Museum, ICA London, The Swiss Institute NY, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Brandenburgischer Kunstverein, Museum Fridericianum. He lives and works in Stockholm.
Agnieszka Polska creates videos, animations and photographs which often use archival sources and fabricated visual materials and which reference the history of art – especially of the 1960s and 70s. Her work was exhibited in the New Museum in New York, the National Gallery in Prague, Nottingham Contemporary in the UK, the Salzburger Kunstverein in Austria. Polska’s work has been included in exhibitions and screenings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington DC, the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, the 19th Biennale of Sydney, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the 13th Istanbul Biennial, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin. Her work was featured in the 11th Gwangju Biennale in Korea and at the 57th Venice Biennale.
Agnieszka Polska was born in Lublin, Poland. She lives and works in Krakow, PL, and Berlin.
Sally O’Reilly writes for performance, page and video. Recent projects include the novella The Ambivalents (Cabinet Books, 2017), the novel Crude (Eros Press, 2016), libretti for the operas And London Burned (Temple Music Foundation, 2016) and The Virtues of Things (Royal Opera, Aldeburgh Music, and Opera North, 2015) and a monograph on Mark Wallinger (Tate Publishing, 2015). She was writer-in-residence at the Whitechapel Art Gallery (2010–2011) and at Modern Art Oxford (2016); producer and co-writer of The Last of the Red Wine, a radio sitcom set in the art world (ICA, London, 2011); and co-editor of Implicasphere (2003–8), an interdisciplinary broadsheet. She lives and works in London.
Roee Rosen is an artist, filmmaker and writer. His films include Out (2010), which won the Orizzonti awards for best medium-length film at the Venice Film Festival. His latest book is entitled Live and Die as Eva Braun and Other Intimate Stories (Sternberg Press, 2017). His art is featured this year in Documenta 14. Rosen is a professor at Ha’Midrasha Art College, and at the Bezalel Art Academy, both in Israel.
He lives and works in Tel Aviv.
Gernot Wieland’s most recent exhibitions include the 9th Norwegian Sculpture Biennial, Vigeland Museum, Oslo; 33rd International Short Film Festival, Hamburg; Con_Text, Lettrétage, Berlin (2017); Body Luggage – Migration of Gestures, Kunsthaus Graz/festival steirischer herbst, Graz; Histoires de l’Ile des Bienheureux, Musée du chateau des ducs de Wurtemberg, Montbéliard; “Hello, my name is…”…and…”Yes, I’m fine.”, Maumaus/Lumiar Cité, Lisbon; 33rd Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, Kassel; Random Walks, Konsthall 44, Møn (NO); Objects Do Things, CCA – Center for Contemporary Art, Warszaw, TEDxGhent, Ghent (2016). Wieland was recently awarded the prize of the MOSTYN Open 20 Llandudno, Wales. Born in Horn, Austria, he lives and works in Berlin.
The Museum of Modern Comedy in Art (MoMCo) – A Proposal was commissioned by Project Arts Centre and supported by an IMMA Production Residency and Konstnärsnämnden / The Swedish Arts Grants Committee.
Project Arts Centre is proud to be supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and Dublin City Council.