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Digital Exhibition “Laughing is Contagious”: How Artists Dealt With the Pandemic

Digital exhibition "Laughing Is Contagious": Daniel Jokesch
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Back in May 2020, we asked artists how they were dealing with the new situation and received a number of answers, some quite different from others. Times have been tough, but who other than cartoonists are best in not losing focus on what’s the most important – humor and laughter!

Wearing masks will be a necessity for a long time, the Austrian government is switching their four-colored Corona traffic light constantly, and nobody will be surprised by a new lockdown. Okay, and what’s funny about that? Actually, nothing, to be honest – but instead of being pessimistic, we could also try to have some fun!

Digital exhibition "Laughing Is Contagious": Clemens Otawa
© Clemens Ottawa | “Don’t you have to work from home?” – I can’t, I forget my password to log in”

Artists’ Lives During Corona

So how has life changed in the last months? We contacted the artists who participated in our digital exhibition Laughing is Contagious to see how they are doing. The cultural sector is deeply struggling, but they tried to stay active, start new projects, and look out for new alternatives.

Daniel Jokesch is still commenting on the political scene in the newspapers “Wiener Zeitung” and “Falter.” For the latter, he is drawing a weekly comic strip lately which is – what else could it be – about Corona and the problems it causes for Austrian politics. That leads us to a paradoxical situation: if COVID comes to an end, this strip will too… So what should we hope for?

One of the artists is quite mysterious: püribauer always shows up in disguise. His drawings are still published weekly in the “Falter.” We don’t know if this has something to do with the shortage of toilet paper during the first lockdown, but he is using a lot of toilet brushes lately – to draw! Whoever wants to see both his black-and-white creatures and colorful toilet brush paintings shouldn’t miss his exhibition in Castle Dinzl in Villach, starting on October 5.

Digital exhibition "Laughing Is Contagious": Wien in leiwanden Grafiken
© Komische Künste – Wien in leiwanden Grafiken | The Apocalypse. What I expect: 50% Anarchy 50% Zombies. What I get: 50% Home Office 50% No Toilet Paper at the Supermarket

The mastermind behind Wien in leiwanden Grafiken is Clemens Ettenauer, who also runs the shop and gallery Komische Künste (Funny Arts) in Vienna. This institution showcases cartoonists in regular exhibitions and also publishes books under the name “Holzbaum Verlag”. Most of the artists participating in our digital exhibition “Laughing is Contagious” have also been featured there many times: Daniel Jokesch, Clemens Ottawa, Elisabeth Semrad, Benedikt Kobel, Wien in leiwanden Grafiken, Michael Dufek and püribauer. The current exhibition is titled “Viral Cartoons” and is showing the best cartoons from 10 years of Komische Künste.

Digital exhibition "Laughing Is Contagious": Michael Dufek
© Michael Dufek | “Suppose you are allowed to rule Austria for a day. Which scandal would you be involved in?”

Cartoons Don’t Often Make for a Living

Few cartoonists can survive on drawing cartoons only, so most of them have other jobs. Elisabeth Semrad also works as a TV and radio journalist at the ORF (the official Austrian broadcasting station) and as a voice talent. Her cartoon book “The Waldorf Dog Obedience School” was published at Holzbaum Verlag. Benedikt Kobel’s other profession is located in the cultural sector as well – he is a tenor at the Vienna State Opera. Clemens Ottawa is simultaneously working on different projects: he is drawing for the website wienzig where his cartoons will be published in February 2021, and his first novel “Jawohl” will be published by container press. Michael Dufek works at the Vienna International Airport, and this obviously is not the best place to work during flight restrictions. However, he won’t get bored, as he has a lot of hobbies and still doesn’t lose hope to get rich by selling his cartoon books.

Support the Artists

While it’s good to know about the past – how will the future look? Nowadays, nobody even dares to guess… We hope that there will still be support for artists and others working in the cultural sector and that we still will have something to laugh about! Whoever needs to cheer up a bit should definitely check out our digital exhibition Laughing is Contagious. To make it accessible for everybody, we have decided to give it away for free. If you want to support the artists, please do this directly – buy their books and artworks, like and follow on social media, and tell your friends and families!

Let’s get through this crisis together.

FREE EXHIBITION

Laughing is Contagious

Corona affects almost all areas of our lives, and just as diverse are the contributions that will make you smile in our second digital exhibition.

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