LAUGH OUT LOUD!

Hmm, humour… Why deal today with something that serious sciences and discourses from the very beginning of the Christian era at best avoid, whilst at worst proclaim to be a curse? It is difficult - in terms of science and experiment - to comprehensively grasp the slippery subject, and it might be for this very reason that analytical disciplines struggle like hell against it. Even if we vaguely believe in a method of approaching the subject via similar structures, then humour is somewhat more easily approached through art than through discourses that notoriously lack humour. Indeed, humour and art have a great deal in common. In much the same way that it is difficult to determine that something is art, there aren’t any jokes which are wholly universal. And there’s more to it: the structures of humour, which make us laugh at something, are very much similar to those utilised by art. And it is these very methods that led us in the conception of the programme for this 13th International City of Women Festival. Due to the fact that art and humour also share the exquisite characteristic of portraying and slightly disentangling an otherwise complex reality - we have designed this year’s programme in sections.

 

The works which use repetition (ad absurdum), and thereby aggravate particular images, ‘given facts’ and messages, as well as indicate the anticipated course of events – which triggers pleasure through

reassurance – have been united into a section entitled To the Limit… And Beyond: The Burlesque

Hour, an Australian cabaret hit, the star of Bosnian popular music Hanka Paldum, as well as the brutally and almost grotesquely honest intermedia artist and musician Kevin Blechdom – who might also carry energy similar to that of San Francisco in 1967 – go to the end and beyond – and sometimes even come back.

 

A different direction is taken by the Slovenian choreographer and dancer Maja Delak with her eleventh premiere – an inclusive creation – as well as Waheeda Mallaluah from Bahrain and India’s Tejal Shah in the exhibition entitled Do It! in which they ironically turn some notions of a two-thirds world upsidedown. Thus the It Can’t Be True, And Yet It Is section surprises with confusions, the performativity of practices and identities which indicate that one can also dance happily through rough terrain. Such paths may be scary, but we find them delightful for the very reason they may seem unfamiliar.

 

Gourmets appreciate surprises. Ann Liv Young, the bright star of New York’s underground dance scene, adds pepper to the sensitive nose through her naughty Snow White, whilst o.blaat, the Japanese-American sound artist, provides sounds to objects we always perceive but rarely hear. Myriam Laplante, the Bangladeshi-Italian visual artist, offers us a performance and installation in which she turns fairytales upside-down and affords us further enjoyment by subordinating them. Accordingly, the events of the Clear As Yester-Day section are filled with suspense and head in unexpected directions, including our own.

 

Well, we don’t always laugh at ourselves; most often we laugh at that which redirects us to where we

don’t really want to go – a feature common to humour and art alike. The subject matter addressed by

art and humour often troubles us, thus the City of Women festival focuses in particular on the situation

in the contemporary labour market, as well as reaches beyond art – into the field of media. At Humour

Works we keep ourselves busy with work at the exhibition, performances, lectures and video screenings, as well as a workshop and the Humour Works reader.

 

In addition, we are further augmenting and expanding the already well-established COWeb. In conjunction with festival and COWeb participants we are creating an online platform for DIY media content, continuing the electronic festival paper COWeb Zine, audio streaming through COW Radio and introducing MOO, the second Slovenian electronic music netlabel for really cool girls.

 

All of you who want to become more proficient in the creation of stage provocations, electro poetry,

pyromaniacal skills, or if you are tired of porn films lacking any intimacy or particular sexuality – pay

special attention to this year’s education section.

Allegedly, both carnival and festival times are aimed in particular at the temporary bridging of unsurpassable obstacles, and the abolition of social hierarchies in order that which is normally ‘off-limits’ becomes subject to scrutiny and ridicule. Some believe that we have to allow ourselves to laugh and, in particular, mock; and then after the huge eruption of carnival everything can return to its - allegedly - right and proper place. Does it really? What about if we don’t stop laughing? This year, the City of Women believes in neither humour nor art, but finds the »black powder« in both. When fire is above, beneath and inside us, we will still keep on laughing. We shall laugh at the sense of our laughter, and only when it detonates with a loud report we will see who laughs loudest!

Katja Kobolt and Dunja Kukovec

Curators of the 13th International Festival of Contemporary Arts City of Women