Well-Heeled Bitches

No, I’ve not got my sexist hat on. This lol was brought to you courtesy of David Kemp, whose latest work is being shown at the Kilmorack Gallery in Inverness, this April. His provocatively titled Well-Heeled Bitches is part of The Art of Humour, an exhibition exploring belly laughs in art.

David Kemp, Well-Heeled Bitches

Well-Heeled Bitches, David Kemp

The ‘Well-Heeled Bitches’ in question are sculptures – dogs made solely from ladies boots. (See what he did there? Also, see what I did there?) Not what you were expecting, was it? You see, like those leathery boots Kemp’s piece has layers. The absurdity of the cartoonish mutts with a sartorial streak confounds those who expected something sexier and thus is a direct challenge to a society that equates heels and the term ‘bitch’ with women.

Kemp’s that friend who tests your honour with an un-pc joke only to call you out on your ingrained bullshit if you find it funny.

Eduard Bersudsky - Piper

Piper, Eduard Bersudsky

That is the essence of The Art of Humour. The exhibition probes what we laugh at and why we laugh. When is a joke no longer acceptable? Is society too politically correct? Or does laughing at taboo subjects merely reinforce ingrained prejudices? All these questions are particularly pertinent in the wake of criticism regarding the near-the-knuckle humour favoured by contemporary comedians.

For an exhibition about humour many of the artists have honed in on surprisingly grim topics. No slapstick or casual fart jokes here. Kemp and his contemporaries favour the ‘big ones.’ Death, skeletons, consumerism. Politics and sex. Death. Where’s a lolcat when you need one?
The Burger King, Michael Forbes

The Burger King, Michael Forbes

Yet dark humour is surprisingly typical in the face of death. (Hieronymus Bosch laughed at impending damnation). Laughter is the go-to reaction when Option B is often to curl up in a teary ball of pity and cheesy nachos.

Jokes often reveal deep, uncomfortable truths about a cruel, hateful world we feel powerless to change. But rather than descend into wet, greasy messes, laughter can be used to combat negativity and ease suffering. Many a playground bully has been destabilised by laughter and gallows humour has been employed for centuries by the oppressed and outcast. It is also, reputedly, the best medicine.

friend of crows - paul barnes

Friend of crows, Paul Barnes

But just as comedy can be harnessed for good, so too can it be misused for evil. Everyone knows that person who tells racist or sexist (or any other ist you can think of) jokes. Suddenly that moment arrives: you’re in a circle of friends and the morally challenged mate steps forward and forces everyone to listen to their latest joke. The oh-so side-splitting gag is usually met with a ripple of uncomfortable laughter but never directly challenged. (I find it useful to refer to Boromir here). Your friend thinks they’re hilarious, and if you didn’t laugh you didn’t get it. Or you have a stick stuck somewhere inappropriate. (Why are you friends, again?).

The-King-is-Dead, Henry Fraser

The-King-is-Dead, Henry Fraser

The Art of Humour explores all these dark, difficult subjects. The exhibition runs from 19th April until June 1st, so if you’re up north and looking for a laugh you should check it out. Although, with such gloomy subject matter giggles may be thin on the ground.

Actually, it’s probably safer to stay indoors and type Lawyer Dog into Google. Aw, cute corgi. All dressed up in his cute suit and adult tie. Giving funny dog advice. So funny and cute. Why is real life not this fun and cute? Come to think of it, why is life so…bad. It must be bad , right? Otherwise this meme wouldn’t add so much to your day. Wait – why are you crying?

 

 

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