Meg Duguid is funny. Her artwork has harnessed comedy structures for decades, but her results don’t induce laughter. Structures are different than funny.
Meg manipulated some documentation photographs of a performance she conceived and produced. (These are documents of performance in which the performers are agents of their own recording). She removed the performers, then put them back as flattened cartoon drawings of themselves. (Drawings of photographs contained in the photographs, some of the images are of photographers). The comic book versions retain proportions and structures of mechanically recorded images of people. They are simpler and flatter, but otherwise “realistic.”
We are left with humor that is something besides funny, or funny that is something besides “Ha, Ha!” We are left with a comic strip motif that is recounting a slapstick performance that draws deeply from the structures of silent film. We easily recognized an actor dressed as Lady Liberty, in the distance the actual Statue of Liberty. We see an actor, simplified and flattened, photographing a simplified and flattened actor playing the role of a simplified and flattened national symbol of freedom. We see newspapers that flatten details of a story into headlines, and they are used in turn to tell a story flattened into a silent film. The place I end up is more distant and cool than I expect with humor, but can’t say that the humor is dry.
Unlike the physics that govern optics, distant gaze brings things into razor sharp focus that we ignore when we are warm and cosy with the thing we’re looking at. Funny how funny can get us so close to the serious truth of things.