The Laughable Enigma of Ordinary Life

David Campbell (Photographer), Mark Durden (Other)

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


The title of the exhibition The Laughable Enigma of Ordinary Life comes from a line in Simon Critchley’s book On Humour, and refers to comedy’s propensity to alter our perception of the everyday, the way in which ‘jokes tear holes in our usual predictions about the empirical world.’ The exhibition explores the way in which comedy alters our understanding of the everyday. All of the art in this show springs from everyday life, is always about artist’s experience of the ordinary. What constitutes the ‘ordinary’ is obviously framed by the specific circumstances each artist experiences, and the exhibition and book explore how these are governed by shared social and cultural relationships and conventions, and a commonality with an audience that makes their art and their humour legible. The exhibition seeks to trace the comedic through the way it makes its mark on the different way artists feed off and translate the everyday in their work. The show includes artwork employing a diverse range of formal and conceptual strategies and enabled the exploration of how these are used by artists to create particular relationships of spectatorship. Individual work selected for inclusion in the exhibition were used in order to examine how artists develop innovative and challenging forms of representation to engage with everyday experience and connect with diverse audiences. The accompanying co-authored book provided a historical overview of the show’s thematic and enabled detailed analysis of individual artworks included in the exhibition.
The exhibition was co-curated by David Campbell and Mark Durden and the show was scheduled to run from 15th September- 31st to 31thDecember 2017, but was extended to 14th January 2018.
The exhibition featured work by: Bank, (UK) Carla Garlaschi (Chile), David Sherry (Ireland), Erica Eyres (Canada), Gemma Marmalade (UK), Gilliam Wearing (UK), Joachim Schmid (Germany), John Smith (UK), Kara Hearn (USA), Maurice Doherty (Ireland), Olav Westphalen (Germany), Paul McCarthy (USA), Peter Finnemore (Wales), Pilvi Takala (Finland), Richard Hughes (UK), Richard Wentworth (UK) e Thomas Geiger (Germany).
The exhibition featured a range of media forms including: video, sculpture, photography, drawing and painting and featured newly commissioned artworks by Common Culture.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationArquipélago, Centro de Artes Contemporâneas in São Miguel, the Azores
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2017
EventThe Laughable Enigma of Ordinary Life - Arquipélago – Contemporary Art Center, São Miguel, Portugal
Duration: 15 Sept 201731 Dec 2017


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