RCA, London, 25 May 2018
ABSURDITY: COLOURING IN THE VOID With Ed Atkins, Katrina Palmer, Sally O’Reilly and Kit Downes and Sarah Jones (Chair). This event has been organised by the SoAH Research Group ABSURDITY led by Chantal Faust, with Brian Dillon, Tim O’Riley, Joanne Tatham, Edward Thomasson, and Milly Thompson. Absurdity: Colouring in the Void will focus on the importance of absurdity today in the work of Ed Atkins, Sally O’Reilly and Katrina Palmer.
When Albert Camus penned his philosophy of the absurd in 1942, he wrote that the role of the artist is to ‘give the void its colours’. This is quite a beautiful notion, but how do we colour-in nothingness, openness, or a vacuum? Is it a question of finding meaning in the meaningless, or in what lies beyond the possibility of total certainty: a question of not explaining and solving, but experiencing and describing? To recognise absurdity is to call present reality into question.Exemplified by the Dadaists, the embodiment of absurdity continues to be called upon by artists and writers as a response to global anxiety and inanity. Absurdity: Colouring in the Void will consider the importance of absurdity – and its relation to humour, repetition, subjectivity, endurance, failure, play, irony and revolt – as a subversive tool, a disarming force, and a form of protest.