News / Art

South London Gallery wants you to christen its new extension with the sound of laughter


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Galleries are undoubtedly a good thing. Quiet, contemplative, and usually blessed with the kind of soft white walls that take the edge off the post-private-view-hangover, galleries are undoubtedly a good thing. They could, however, do with being a bit funnier. When was the last time you stood, back arched, eyebrow raised, chin-stroked, in one of these hallowed spaces of near-silent contemplation, and laughed?

That’s set to change when South London Gallery’s long-mooted extension opens in September. As the name suggests, the Fire Station space resides in what was once, yep, a fire station, on the road between Camberwell and Peckham. The gallery’s first show will be Knock Knock, which is, so the SLG bigwigs say, “a surprising encounter with a broad range of humorous strategies,” including everything from slapstick, parody and caricature through to the in-joke, one-liner and visual pun.”

A timely examination of the role humour plays in contemporary art, Maurizio Cattelan, Sarah Lucas and Ugo Rondinone and 27 other practitioners feature in a show that wants to put a smile on the face of those usually oh-so-serious gallery-goers who traipse around the world’s white cubes with bulging tote bags in tow. Whether or not raucous laughter will see viewers turfed out into the hustle and bustle of one of south London’s busiest main roads remains to be seen.

Running from 22 September — 18 November, Knock Knock will sit inside both the SLG’s main space, and the Fire Station.