Laughing Matter

They Are Here

“Why does Art hate me? I never did anything to Art.”  
Homer Simpson

Collective practice They Are Here expand their dialogue with ‘precarious’ Londoners through a series of exchanges, workshops and live performances.

Working within the networks of local community and activist groups, including the Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation (IRMO), Migrants Organise, The Independent Workers Union, the Latin American Women’s Rights Service and X–Talk – which support the intersection of sex workers’ and migrants’ rights – They Are Here have circulated an invitation to a series of free stand–up comedy workshops led by professional comedian Logan Murray.

These workshops will culminate in ROUTINE, a performance comprising two nights of live stand–up comedy delivered by the participants.

ROUTINE will be staged within an immersive installation of new works informed by the process, including a sculpture which takes its cue from Homer’s line in Season 10 Episode 19 of The Simpsons, “Lisa, that’s it! I’ve got an idea for a wonderful art project that’ll make everyone love me again! Step one: steal all the doormats in town”.

They Are Here will also present a sound installation made up of audio recordings of friends, colleagues, neighbours and strangers laughing. These recordings have been edited to produce ‘canned laughter’ categorised by and attributed to different precarious groups. In the context of a heightened awareness of fake news, the demands of emotional labour and a proliferation of digitally manipulated disembodied voices in public space, the artists ask ‘what is laughter without the bodies that produce it?’.

Laughing Matter forms part of In Residence, a new strand of Studio Voltaire’s Participation Programme which supports artists with a particular focus on public and social practice, connecting the gallery with our locality over an extended period of time.

Laughing Matter is commissioned by Studio Voltaire. Supported by Battersea Power Station Foundation, Aziz Foundation and Lambeth Community Events Fund.

ROUTINE is commissioned in partnership with Block Universe. With special thanks to Battersea Arts Centre, Somerset House Studios and MayDay Rooms.



The Simpsons Symposium, Organised by They Are Here

Saturday 26 May 2018, 2.30-5pm


Taking its cue from They Are Here’s new work, Welcome (2018) – which is inspired by a line from Homer Simpson in the episode Mom & Pop Art (1999) – the artists have convened a panel of Simpsons’ enthusiasts. Their discussions will touch on The Lisa Simpson Book Club, notable predictions of the future in the series, as well as the recent documentary The Problem With Apu (2017). Attendees will also be welcome to share their favourite clips via YouTube. Tickets: Pay–What–You–Like (suggested £4)


Saturday 2 June 2018, 8.30-9.30pm
and Sunday 3 June 2018, 8.30-9.30pm

They Are Here present ROUTINE, an evening of live comedy by Londoners living precariously. Participating groups include Migrants Organise, Indoamerican Refugee and Migrant Organisation Brixton, the Independent Workers Union, X–Talk and the Latin American Women’s Rights Service. The performances are presented in the gallery which has temporarily been transformed into a comedy club, guest compered by The White Pube. Tickets: Pay–What–You–Like (suggested £8)

About They Are Here

They Are Here (f. 2006) is a collaborative practice steered by Helen Walker and Harun Morrison, currently based in London and on the River Lea.

Their recent projects, performances and exhibitions include 40 Temps, 8 Days, Tate Modern, London; The People Behind The Financial System: Sweden, Konsthall C, Stockholm; PLEASE IDENTIFY YOURSELF, Furtherfield, London; Tantalus, Victoria & Albert Museum, London (all 2017); Precarity Centre: B5 5RS, Grand Union, Birmingham; Offshore Transactions, River Lea, UP Projects (both 2016) and Location Scouts, South London Gallery, London (2015). In June 2016, They Are Here co–founded Ayandeh Garden, a community–growing project in Finsbury Park involving young adult refugees and asylum seekers.

Image Credit

They Are Here & Rosalie Schweiker, Wisdom, 2018.

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