The Laughter of Tears | 2021

Kunstverein Braunschweig, Germany 

When we are in the sonic range of the flightpaths of a flock of birds returning to a roosting site, we become intimate with their together-ness. When people are awestruck by wonder, or tickled into laughter, or moved to tears, they momentarily transmit to each other before, between, and beyond language. Such transmissions need no translation to be contagious. They glow, lit from within. A patchwork of shared fabric and feeling offers the outline of customary forms of illumination but fleeting epiphanies and crowded memories extend this patchwork to a flow between celebration and mourning. Within this coloured glow it is possible to admit that tears are now also extra-human. This illuminated suspension equally shelters and shadows a dissenter’s disobedience, parsed by the sovereign through accusations and bail orders, producing a halfway-life in limbo between coercion, surrender, defiance, and heresy.

An owl and a donkey interpolate themselves, indicating the simultaneity of leaving and returning. Tyll of Braunschweig teaches us the trick of being on both sides of a mirror at once, reflected and reflecting, and Nasreddin of Aksehir shows us how to face the future riding backwards on a gentle, fearless donkey. Disappearing ephemera, history unmade or in the making, the scene that unfolds in the corner of the eye: all these matter. And notes taken of pictures that whisper and speak in tongues can move us to tears sometimes. Meanwhile, humor is yet another beast in a bestiary.