Humor is a useful strategy in stating one’s stance. Jokes that trigger laughter allow us to express subversive thoughts metaphorically. Also humor presents the possibilities to dismantle canons and conventions openly. Humor in gestures of objection, mockery, irony, liberation, or destruction can be an effective means in cracking the social status quo. Humor Has It looks into Fluxus artists and Paik who challenged the traditional values of society and institutional art from an angle of humor.
Fluxus, a loose but revolutionary art network, was born in the late 1950s in Europe and the US. Many artists united and disunited freely to challenge the boundaries of high art in order to present a new form of art that everybody could enjoy. In a rapidly changing society of the 1960s, Fluxus also made critical attempts on social problems through its radical movements. At the center of Fluxus that dealt with issues of art and society in a witty and humorous manner was Paik. His sensational and provocative performances before his video art are considered representative works of Fluxus. Paik used his body as a medium, composed sound in a new way, engaged actively with audiences, and posed questions like Zen riddles.
In this exhibition you will meet Paik through Fluxus, breaking boundaries, getting together freely, challenging social taboo, staging sociopolitical intervention, and counterattacking high art. These characteristics are what run through Paik’s art. Constantly raising questions to existing frameworks, Paik continued to challenge and experiment on new things, and presented thoughtful and revolutionary ideas in a humorous manner. Paik’s ways of witty and humorous counterattack against institutions, rules, and norms, may be useful in dealing with contemporary issues we are facing in our lives today. For, however hard, how difficult the situation is, humor could help in some ways make room for change.
Artists: Nam June Paik, Erik Andersch, Ay-O, Klaus Barisch, Joseph Beuys, George Brecht, John Cage, Willem de Ridder, Robert Filliou, Geoffrey Hendricks, Dick Higgins, Takehisa Kosugi, Manfred Leve, George Maciunas, Jonas Mekas, Manfred Montwé, Peter Moore, Charlotte Moorman, Yoko Ono, Benjamin Patterson, Mieko (Chieko) Shiomi, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Daniel Spoerri, Ben Vautier, Wolf Vostell, Robert Watts, Emmett Williams, Jud Yalkut, La Monte Young
Curator: Sang Ae Park
Co-curator: Hyejin Park
Nam June Paik Art Center
Giheung-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do 17068, Korea