Laughter buttons send titters through gallery as Ha Ha Road opens at the Quad in Derby

By Culture24 Reporter | 12 August 2011
A photo of a house where the windows have been made to look like eyes and a mouth and a red circular symbol has been added between them to look like a nose
Dan Witz, Prank, Brooklyn, NYC (2005)© Dan Witz
Exhibition: Ha Ha Road, QUAD Gallery, Derby, until October 23 2011

French installation artist Boris Achour has been known to squiggle cartoons of circle-headed women having a wee, Swiss super 8 specialist Pipilotti Rist can be seen jiggling half-naked while repeating the opening line of a Beatles number on YouTube, and Welsh self-deprecator Bedwyr Williams once put 45 of his size 13 shoes on odorous display.

Taking part alongside a rather lengthy list of illustrative artists from all over the world, their strategies epitomise why this show is certain to make you laugh, not least because “laughter buttons” dotted around the Quad allow you to summon the chuckles of Brian Blessed, Barbara Windsor, Scooby Doo and more.

A photo of a man standing on top of a cliff with a drawing board
Hank Schmidt in der Beek, Zillertaler Alpen Nr. 2 (Zillertal Alps No. 2, 2009)© Hank Schmidt in der Beek. Image: Fabian Schubert
Curators Dave Ball and Sophie Springer have worked with Quad to bring out the liberating qualities of humour in contemporary art – the title is named after an actual road in Woolwich, in case you were wondering – and their focus is on the inexplicable and illogical.

It’s playful and witty, but perhaps more importantly demonstrates how a touch of the absurd or a microscope on the overlooked can help in the noble cause of suspending common assumptions.

Mike Marshall’s finest hour might just have been running across the Egyptian desert muttering memorised jokes in a film at Tate St Ives in 2004, so his latest adventures with nature should be a treat, and the occasionally-saucy Debbie Lawson makes tables collapse and chairs dance in warped sculptures where the imaginary seems real.

 Out in the Quad Corridors and on their Digital Screens, the accompanying Comic Strip exhibition tells stories across panels, taking original works from newspapers, books and comments to comment on politics and culture.

  • Open 11am-6pm (12pm-6pm Sunday). Admission free.
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