The Joke Dies
From the All the Funny Men Have Gone Home series, 2006
Endura metallic color print
26” x 38”
Courtesy of the artist and G Fine Art Gallery, Washington DC
Vanderbilt Artists Exhibit
Work by Artists from Vanderbilt University's Department of Art
(October 21 – December 9, 2010)
Vesna Pavlović (Belgrade, Serbia) obtained her MFA degree in visual arts from Columbia University in 2007. She is an Assistant Professor of Art at Vanderbilt University where she teaches photography and digital media. Her projects develop as anthropological studies, analyzing different cultures and their visual representations through particular phenomena. She has exhibited widely, including solo shows at the Museum of History of Yugoslavia in Belgrade, and the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento. She has been featured in group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Belgrade, Tennis Palace Art Museum in Helsinki, Carinthian Museum of Modern Art in Klagenfurt, Austria, Photographers' Gallery in London, Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, and FRAC Center for Contemporary Art in Dunkerke, France. Most recently, her work has been included in "Reframing Photography" publication (Routledge, UK, fall 2010), and Photobiennale 2010 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Pavlović is the recipient of Robert Penn Warren Fellowship at Vanderbilt University and upcoming Helene Wurlitzer Foundation grant and artist residency in Taos, NM in 2011. Her exhibition "Vesna Pavlović: Projected Histories" will be presented at the Gordon Contemporary Artists Project Gallery at the Frist Center for Visual Arts in Nashville in June 2011. Her work is represented by G Fine Art Gallery in Washington DC.
My projects develop as anthropological studies, analyzing different cultures and their visual representations through particular phenomena. I am interested in the experience of history and the changes it brings to society and culture. Issues of taste, desire and expectation, the friction of performance, set in different contexts, are prevailing themes in my work. Presented as either a photographic print or a projected image within installation, the pieces confront photographic representation and attempt to reveal the layers constituting the image.
The ongoing series All the Funny Men Have Gone Home concentrates on the interaction between the performer and the audience, looking at stand-up comedy and other forms of performance as social practice and commentary. In an installation of the same name, an image of an empty stage is projected on a white screen, to suggest the delivery of a joke, but its stillness brings the opposite. In a school of comedy in Manhattan, a group of performers is learning how to "be funny" from an established comedian. The banging of a pair of doors signals a stage relief. A spotlight is shone on the floor of the gallery space, and a mirror captures the audience within the reflection of a wallpaper image at the site of discomfort and unease. In Bergson's words, "the first point to which attention should be called is that the comic does not exist outside the pale of what is strictly human." The psychological space analyzed here suggests the vulnerability and humanness of the performance, using photography, video, sound, and installation. The project aims to discuss the complexities of the stage performance where the space of friction between the audience and performance becomes the event.