Rebecca Moss: the art of slapstick

Many of the pieces collected in ‘Poor Things’, the excellent new exhibition at the Fruitmarket, use humour, but perhaps none quite as pointedly as Rebecca Moss’s video installations, 'Thick-Skinned' and 'Home Improvements'. Both works demonstrate Moss’s interest in slapstick as a way of examining ‘the gap between being a body and having a body: between… Continue reading Rebecca Moss: the art of slapstick

Berlant and Early: Intellectual vaudeville

It feels a little superfluous analysing Kate Berlant and John Early’s work when the commentary is largely built in; to point out that they revisit certain preoccupations, like social performance and competition, for example, feels somewhat redundant when the revisiting is itself a theme of the work. That interest in refining an idea or an… Continue reading Berlant and Early: Intellectual vaudeville

Sanford Biggers’ Chimeras

Sanford Biggers’ Chimeras series brings together the bodies of well-known Greco-Roman sculptures with over-sized heads formed by African masks. The mashups create a complex and tonally ambiguous effect – incongruous certainly, but not necessarily comic. Biggers has spoken about his interest in artwork that has an ‘unfamiliar’ tone; arguing that ‘a great artwork can make… Continue reading Sanford Biggers’ Chimeras

Reasons to be Cheerful

Nina Stibbe’s novel, Reasons To Be Cheerful, the third volume in a series of semi-autobiographical novels, hasn’t been short of recognition, winning the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize in 2019, and the Comedy Women in Print Prize in 2020. As is so often the case with comic novels, though, critical suspicion lingers – with some critics… Continue reading Reasons to be Cheerful

Rutu Modan’s Tunnels

A thrilling adventure story, Rutu Modan’s new graphic novel, Tunnels, is also very funny. The story has a buoyant, almost farcical energy, and there’s a satirical aspect too, an empathetic satire which is fond rather than acrimonious. As with her previous work, Modan’s subject is Israeli life, and the story’s archaeological focus shows the preoccupation… Continue reading Rutu Modan’s Tunnels

Mike Birbiglia: orchestrating anxiety

   Mike Birbiglia creates masterful endings. It’s not good form to talk about endings, especially in stand up, when an effective ending can be so transformative. With tension such a key component - both at the level of individual jokes and of fully developed sets or specials, with punchlines and closers providing the release (or… Continue reading Mike Birbiglia: orchestrating anxiety

Mark Leidner: Anti-myth myth-making

Returning the Sword to the Stone, the title of Mark Leidner’s newest collection, gestures to renunciation, or reversal, and the invocation of myth is developed by a line within the poem itself: ‘removing royalty from your bloodline by returning the sword to the stone’. The notion of reversing or undercutting myth threads throughout the collection,… Continue reading Mark Leidner: Anti-myth myth-making

Jack Docherty’s meta-romcom

How to classify Jack Docherty’s new storytelling Fringe show, Nothing But? It’s a romcom of sorts, and a meta-romcom at that, one that has its cake and eats it too. Alongside the romance narrative itself, it’s also a record of the attempt to create a romcom, and a commentary upon the genre more generally. Docherty’s… Continue reading Jack Docherty’s meta-romcom

Dead Souls

A satire on the cultural sector, which uses humour to play with ideas about literary convention and value, Dead Souls is also a series of philosophical enquiries, with plagiarism the preeminent theme. Set in a slightly warped world where poetry has become immensely lucrative, the novel explores the case of a plagiarising poet, Solomon Wiese, publicly shamed… Continue reading Dead Souls

Googly eyes

The cartoonish owl in Nicole Eisenman’s new sculpture, ‘Love and Generosity’, eyes pointing slightly in different directions, is one of a string of recent characters with the same feature: Heihei, the stowaway chicken in the Disney film, Moana; the pigeon in Spies in Disguise who eats anything and everything; and most recently, the family’s pug… Continue reading Googly eyes