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15 Aug 2008

Ha Ha Road at Bank Street Arts

Dan Witz: Pranks (2004); (real) weather balloon attached to house front; meeker between N Henry and Humboldt, Brooklyn, NY.

Ha Ha Road


11 Sep-12 Oct 2008; open Thu-Sun; preview 7pm Wed 10 September


32-40 Bank Street, Sheffield S1 2DS

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What is it that makes certain artworks funny? What is it about the joke and the work of art that seems to make them unfold with a similar skewed logic? Just why is laughter so alluring to the artist and comedian alike?

'Ha Ha Road' is an exhibition of contemporary art featuring local, national and international artists whose work utilises or reflects upon humour in unique and unexpected ways. Through their rule-breaking antics, leaps of imagination, twisted reasoning, clever punning, or simply their buffoonery – the artists seduce us with their capacity for comic trickery. Their works push the boundaries of what is plausible, momentarily tripping us up into a state of mind where such bizarre alternative universes somehow start to make sense.

Featuring works in video, drawing, installation, sculpture and performance, the exhibition attempts to pin down and make sense of that most slippery and unpredictable quality of the artwork: its ability to make us laugh.

Taking its title from the name of a street in London, the exhibition plays on its double meaning. Apart from its connection with laughter, a 'ha-ha' also refers to a type of sunken boundary: a wall or fence set into a trench, forming a surreptitious division in a landscape whilst preserving the scenic view. This invisible frontier serves as a neat metaphor for our relationship to the world of laughter; for although strangely indistinguishable from the familiar terrain of normality, the joke transports us to a place where rationality has broken down. The works in the show serve to illustrate just how it feels to have stepped over this ineffable barrier and to have inadvertently set foot into the extra-ordinary realm of humour.

Bruce Allan
David Blandy
Alice Bradshaw
Stella Capes
Chris Clarke
Richard Dedomenici
Yara El Sherbini
Colin Guillemet
Philippa Hadley Choy
Matthew Harrison
Simon Hartshorne
William Horner
Candice Jacobs
Nina Lassila
Debbie Lawson
Mike Marshall
Tom Ranahan
Tobias Sternberg
Oleg Timchenko
Graeme Walker
Bedwyr Williams
Dan Witz
Ed Young

Curated by Dave Ball and Sophie Springer

Bank Street Arts is a newly converted studio and gallery complex housed in a row of listed Georgian terraces in the heart of Sheffield. The main gallery spaces occupy the ground floor of the three terraces at the front of the building. There is approximately 1200 sq ft of gallery space across five rooms. 'Ha Ha Road' will be the gallery's inaugural exhibition.