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Ha Ha Road

11 Aug
22 Oct 2011
Ha Ha Road exhibition
Image credit: Ha Ha Road exhibition launch - image by Graham Lucas Commons

Exploring the use of humour in contemporary art, Ha Ha Road presented the work of artists who play with a "rupture of sense". 

Taking its title from the name of a street, the exhibition played on its double meaning. Apart from its connection with laughter, a "ha-ha" also refers to a type of sunken boundary: a wall or fence set into a trench, forming a hidden division in a landscape whilst preserving the scenic view. This invisible frontier serves as a neat metaphor for our relationship to the world of laughter.

Strangely indistinguishable from the familiar terrain of normality, a joke transports us to a place where sense breaks down, where the familiar is turned on its head, where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, and where the world means differently. Nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. This is the paradoxical condition of humour, and the source of its disruptive power.

The show explored what it means to step over this barrier and to set foot into the inexplicable and illogical world of humour. The selected artworks demonstrated how acts of absurdity, irrationality or playfulness can interrupt reality and momentarily destabilise common assumptions. These strategies, and those of all the artists in 'Ha Ha Road', served to illustrate the liberating freedom of thought at work in humour. They invited us to look at the world from the other side of the fence.

'Ha Ha Road' was curated by Dave Ball and Sophie Springer and produced by QUAD in collaboration with Mostyn Gallery.

Artists presented in the exhibition: Boris Achour (FR), Chantal Akerman (BE), Bobby Baker (UK), Dave Ball (UK), Anna + Bernhard Blume (DE), Stella Capes (UK), Yara El Sherbini (UK), Fischli + Weiss (CH), Ceal Floyer (UK), Rodney Graham (CA), Ellie Harrison (UK), Debbie Lawson (UK), Mike Marshall (UK), Kirsten Pieroth (DE), Pipilotti Rist (CH), Mathew Sawyer (UK), Ariel Schlesinger (IL), Hank Schmidt in der Beek (DE), Michael Shaw (UK), Roman Signer (CH), Charles Stankievech (CA), Annika Ström (SE), Bedwyr Williams (UK), Dan Witz (US) & Erwin Wurm (AT).

Ha Ha Hallway
QUAD Corridors & Digital Screens
In conjunction with 'Ha Ha Road' this Comic Strip exhibition showed a huge variety of humorous narrative sequences in cartoon panels. Including original artworks from newspapers, books or comics, the drawings use humour to comment on amusing everyday issues like food, political affairs or cultural characteristics.

Referring to the Ha Ha theme, the exhibition included well-known British newspaper illustrators such as Tom Gauld, Berger&Wyse and Harry Venning as well as illustrators from America and France, indicative of the universal popularity of the medium. 

Curated by Jill Carruthers and Stefanie Meier.

BFI Mediatheque - Ha Ha Road Collection
A special Mediatheque Collection was curated by QUAD and BFI to tie in with the Ha Ha Road exhibition. Eighteen titles were selected, showing different facets of the comedy genre from the past century.

Exhibition events included; Tours, Ha Ha Shakespeare Interventions by 1623 Theatre Company and Lostboys Productions, Ha Ha Shakespeare Comedy Club, Harry Venning Workshop: Release Your Inner Cartoonist, Comedy Poetry Night, Laughter Workshop, Pub Quiz by Yara El Sherbini, Exhibition Screening of Fischil and Weiss 'Der Rechter Weg', Ha Ha Ramble by the Contemporary Art of Walking, A Laughter Trail around QUAD, and a Ha Ha Film Season in QUAD Cinema.

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