Stine Deja, Assembly, 2022 / Courtesy of the artist / Photo the artist
After Laughter Comes Tears
Oct 13, 2023 – Jan 7, 2024
Mudam
Luxembourg

After Laughter Comes Tears is an experimental exhibition dedicated to performance, and the second edition of the Mudam Performance Season launched in 2021. Conceived as a ‘performative exhibition’, After Laughter Comes Tears will feature the work of thirty-four artists working across the mediums of performance, installation and video. Titled after the 1964 track ‘After Laughter’ by American soul singer and songwriter Wendy Rene, the exhibition unfolds in four acts, mimicking the theatrical narrative of prologue, act 1, act 2, act 3, act 4 and epilogue. By considering moving image and installation as much as the exhibition and its scenography as performative objects, After Laughter Comes Tears proposes to expand the definition of performance. Simultaneously, it grounds the medium of performance within the museum, which traditionally hosts it as an occasional and timed utterance.

The exhibition takes as its starting point the feeling of stasis and anger that defines this later stage of capitalism endorsed by most societies. It is framed by the anxieties of a generation facing a climate crisis, welfare states trampled and failed by neoliberal policies and the rise of xenophobia and far-right parties across the globe, partly fuelled by fake news spreading on- and offline. Adopting the humorous, and at times, dramatic tone that is characteristic of theatricality and embracing the ambiguity that exists between those states, After Laughter Comes Tears unfolds through a narrative that speaks to and of bodies, politics and their fraught relationship under capitalist systems. The works of emerging artists, in dialogue with more established ones, consider the crisis of care and deeply entrenched notions of normalcy, aiming to make visible and thereby question standardised approaches to social and biological norms.

[ . . . ]

To resist a conventional approach in display, After Laughter Comes Tears creates a dynamic exhibition space, changing through time to offer a variety of experiences to the visitor. During the exhibition, the works will also be activated via performances or via an active participation of the visitors, encouraged to leave aside the passive role that is too often expected of them in cultural institutions. The public will therefore get the central part in a collective thinking process brought about by a rich public programme.

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