Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Knock Knock, 2007

Knock Knock
12 Burnfield
Curated by Silke Schnellhardt
feat. artists Jon Sasaki, Seth Scriver, Ken McKerrow, and Jeremy Bailey

Originally published at EyeWeekly.com


Titled after the set of most annoying jokes the history of time, the weekend art expose Knock Knock employed humour in ways that more than redeemed itself from its all-to-familiar title. 

Including performances by Jon Sasaki and Jeremy Bailey, this show took place as a weekend exhibition at 12 Burnfield in the home of curator Silke Schnellhardt.  The show’s motivations succeeded on many a level including work that engaged the audience outside of a rudimentary gallery space.

The employment of clichés can often be excused if one has the insight to hire them to explore new territory.  This was certainly the case in the work exhibited by artists Jon Sasaki, Seth Scriver, Ken McKerrow, and Jeremy Bailey.

The evening started off on dizzying note as Sasaki’s performance took place in the back yard.  While the audience viewed, “Safety Last” a film in which a man bravely climbs a twelve-storey building, Sasaki resolved to climb up one storey of the house in twelve “death defying” rounds.  The final (and twelfth) entrance into the second floor window included a polished somersault into the bedroom above.  Sasaki’s work was also featured in the kitchen.  In a poorly paced voice, the computer recited a collection of Meta and Anti Jokes, designed to extract maximum wincing from the audience.

A performance by Jeremy Bailey, unknown to many at the time, was simultaneously taking place and intensified as the opening continued.  “It was very difficult for me to keep a straight face during his performance” remarked Schnellhardt of Bailey’s “drunk” behavior, “but that only made it more enjoyable, knowing that people honestly didn’t know what to make of it at first.”  Bailey’s performance continued in his maudlin makeup and striped art-uniform shirt for quite some time, falling into both people and the garden furniture.  Schnellhardt was clearly pleased with the social awkwardness the situation brought forth, something that is always difficult to pull of convincingly in a jury of your peers.

Inside the abode, the viewers had to get down on the floor to watch Seth Scriver’s animated rat in action, dutifully playing a guitar and staking his claim in the wall space.

More works by Sasaki, Bailey, and McKerrow, could also be found inside, including an odd audio piece by the latter that spoke to you while you were on the toilet. 

The use of humor in art, Schnellhardt writes, is often ignored in much contemporary discourse and academic writing, and has historically been dismissed by popular intellectuals.  Hopefully though, with more shows of this nature, humour and humorous artwork can be considered just as valuable a process in revealing a meaningful gesture.  It also succeeds in setting itself apart from the sterile notion that ideas should be dismissed in our visual vocabulary simply because they seem so immediately appealing.

Knock Knock took place May 25-27 at 12 Burnfield.