Laughter, pain and shadow

Juan Muñoz, Towards the Corner, 1998

From behind it’s the grey uniformity of the figures that’s striking. They look relaxed and comfortable on the wooden terraced seating. One or two lean in towards one another conspiratorially, but in the main though they are sharing the experience, they seem lost in their own enjoyment of whatever it is they’re watching. Working one’s way round the edge of the piece to see the the work from what we assume to be the front is a very different experience. No longer one of the crowd of watchers – and by now trapped in the corner of the room by the work – one immediately becomes not merely the watched but the laughed at. Regular readers will probably have realised by now that I like art that makes me laugh; disconcertingly, in Juan Muñoz’s Towards the Corner it is the art that is doing the laughing. And it’s laughing at me.

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