I don’t know whether to laugh or cry (2003)

I don’t know whether to laugh or cry (2003)

Ken Lum
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry


giclee print, signed by the artist
20 x 7 ¾ inches (image size), 22 ½ x 15 inches (sheet size)
signed and editioned, in pencil, au recto
edition of 75


Proceeds from this limited edition work benefit C Magazine.



These words from Ken Lum, August 2020:


"I don't know whether to laugh or cry. 2003. I thought it might be interesting to just post the image portion of an image/text work, to study the image as exclusively a portrait. The absent text portion is as in the title. It seems apt for the times. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry seems a fitting dilemma for the sheer depravity that has taken over this country and much of the world. That said, this is also a moment of hope. To wit: BLM, the monuments reckoning, climate change action and #metoo. Over the years, I've received a lot of comments about the humour in many of my works. If there is humour it is dark comedy. It is absurdist theatre comedy. It is the humour generated by the confrontation with real moments that call up our mortality, which for me, elides into Kristeva's notion of the abject. The moment of not knowing whether to laugh or cry is also an opportunity for the reconciliation of the self with everything that is non-self (the breakdown of subject/object distinctions which, admittedly, can be a scary moment yet one that serves as a necessary reminder for who we are as a part of nature). The moment of not knowing whether to laugh or cry is a moment when meaning is no longer assured. At such moments, 'What then?' is not simply the next question but a clarion call." (via instagram @ken__lum)


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