Francesca Hawker: Laughing Out Loud: The Comedic Maintenance of Communal Fantasy


Advisor/tutor: Rachel O’Reilly

July 2020


The elasticised chords of comedic frameworks are crucial to the relationships that form the basis of creative life for myself and many of my friends. Laughter sustains relationships, relationships sustain playful experimentation, playful experimentation sustains fantasy, fantasy sustains performance art, and performance art sustains laughter… By untangling how this arrangement plays out, I will be trying to answer the question of how communal fantasies are cultivated through comedy, in opposition to a neo-liberal crisis of isolation, which is maintained by political and legal mechanisms that restrict the time and space in which non-productive play can occur. Here, comedic fantasies are an escape from a reality in which one is encouraged to passively consume culture instead of creating it together. So how to cultivate comedy, and how to protect its existence without explaining the joke until it isn’t funny anymore?

This work of artistic research will zoom in on a day that I experienced with a friend in a park in London. I will be thinking about how my specific experience of navigating in and out of the Western Contemporary art and performance contexts I work within compares to other experiences of participating in citizenship. I will think about how nationalist political frameworks are negatively affecting queer performative resistant practises that cultivate progressive fantasies. To do so I will think through audience: who watches from afar, and who watches back in turn? Who is laughing, and who is missing? I will think about the communicative gesture of sharing, on which these communal fantasies rest. I will challenge the normative reality of everyday life in late capitalism. And I will analyse playful actions that exercise fantasy, to learn about how objects become funny and why this practice matters.