This article examines the use of humor in contemporary art from two nations understood as “peripheral” states within Europe: Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). Focusing on the concepts of “locality” and “visibility,” this article makes clear the way artists from both nations are framed as local narrators with a “geopolitical burden.” This burden entails the responsibility to represent national histories and trauma, often leading to a reading of art practice as overdetermined through the prism of local representation and national identity. Focusing on the work of two artists from both regions that are highly visible on the international art circuit (Stefanos Tsivopoulos and Mladen Miljanović), this article investigates the way that humor in contemporary art mediates this burden by establishing a local identity “code” that serves to mobilize antinationalist politics and problematize external normative perceptions of regions in “crisis.” In so doing, this article aims to demonstrate how humor harnesses a performance of marginality to undermine stereotypes of life under crisis, while offering alternative views both of each nation’s past and its way forward into the future.
When the Periphery Laughs: Humor and Locality in Contemporary Art from Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Uroš Čvoro is a senior lecturer in art theory at the University of New South Wales, where he teaches on contemporary art and politics. He is the author of Turbo Folk and Cultural Representations of National Identity in Former Yugoslavia (2014) and Transitional Art: Contemporary Art at the Edge of Europe (2018).
Chrisoula Lionis is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Research Fellow at the School of Arts, Languages, and Cultures at the University of Manchester. She is the author of Laughter in Occupied Palestine: Comedy and Identity in Art and Film (2016).
Uroš Čvoro, Chrisoula Lionis; When the Periphery Laughs: Humor and Locality in Contemporary Art from Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Cultural Politics 1 July 2019; 15 (2): 223–243. doi:
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