The ‘Humour as Black Experience’ exhibition challenges prevailing narratives of black life by shifting focus away from trauma and stereotypes towards the cultural resonance embedded in humour.
This concept asserts that humour holds political significance, fostering social interaction and relatability rooted in black lived experiences and asks whether laughter is a coping mechanism, a veiled expression of pain – or a tool for political resistance. In the digital age, black comedians and satirists often appropriate unfunny events, turning them on their heads against their original intent.
The exhibition, held in conjunction with photojournalist Nelly Ating, and Joseph Osayande, photographer and Co-Chair for Race and Ethnicity in Chatham House’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion working group, features artworks from political cartoonists, satirists, photographers and documentarians in a dialogue about identity, culture, diaspora, equality, democracy and representation. It blends past and present while celebrating cultural contributors who have shaped the hegemonic resonance of black humour.
There will also be an archival showcase that highlights Chatham House’s role in political and foreign diplomacy, on the symbolism of a stage, with never-before-seen images, quotes and public/media responses to speeches by black leaders.