Screening & Collection Event at Sociëteit Sexyland
December 16, 2018 / 15:00-19:00
Ms. van Riemsdijkweg 39, 1033 RC
The project Janks Archive is an experimental documentary of insult humor from around the world. Today they present some of their result and will add some traditional Dutch insults to their archive! Everyone can contribute, so be creative.
Janks Archive is an ongoing investigation of insult humor in cultures from around the world. Led by artists Jerstin Crosby, Jessica Langey, Ben Kinsley, this multifaceted study documents this tradition through field recording, and presents the collection through an online database, public events, exhibitions, installations, publications, and a podcast. Using signs, banners, billboards, and sometimes murals, they re-present insults from their archive within public spaces, sparking questions and conversations with passers-by. Through these conversations they learn about local traditions of “verbal abuses,” and ask participants to tell “janks” from memory to the camera. Collected material makes its way into their ever-expanding global archive.
At Sexyland members of Janks Archive will stage a screening of their video archive of insult jokes collected over the past 6 years, as well as host a collection event where visitors are invited to share insult jokes and stories. As this is the first time they are bringing the project The Netherlands, they are particularly interested in learning about Dutch traditions of insult humor.
Why study insult humor?
Insults are an ancient oral tradition embedded within the collective consciousness of a culture or region with inherent ties to human social evolution. The word “Janks,” for example, is a colloquial term from Southern Alabama which refers to an insulting joke that one person says directly to another person. “Playing the Dozens”, “Signifyin”, “snaps”, “burns”, and “rippins” are other names for similar American traditions of verbal dueling. In Northern Ireland you “slag someone off,” in Mexico “Albures” is a verbal game of double entendre, in Italy, “Stornelli” is form of insulting folk poetry, in Finland you might “throw slander” (Heittää Herjaa), in Latvia it’s “Uzbrauciens,” and the list goes on.
This oral tradition is an aspect of culture that does not usually get written down, and is something that “high culture” typically ignores. We are interested in how language morphs, shifts, travels, becomes obsolete, and is forbidden to some, but acceptable to others. In this time of great political upheaval and xenophobia, we are driven to increase more understanding of something which on the surface seems antagonistic, but may ultimately be an invitation for exchange and mutual understanding.
A selection of past screenings and exhibitions have included the Queens International (New York), FIX13 Live Art Biennial (Belfast), Pittsburgh Biennial (Pittsburgh), La Galeria de Comercio (Mexico City), Kallio Kunsthalle Taidehalli (Helsinki), and Lump (Raleigh).