http://proveittome.net/files/gimgs/th-7_de_Give_Helado_Jokes_dillon.jpg
 

Comprensión de mi Colección de Chistes

When we first met I didn't know these men, but I asked them to give me something. I wanted to get something  in my head that came from their mouths so that my body might start shaking. I learned how to ask the question. A lot of people said no, but I walked around through rain and many miles, and I finally got some.

However because of my limited grasp of the language I didn't always understand, even when I recognized most of the words. You can see that I may have even made mistakes. Still I felt a connection and that is why I reacted the way I did.

I also asked women. But they didn't seem to deal in what they thought I wanted. I don't know what that means, maybe something about Mexico or about me.

My collection represents my understanding as a foreigner.


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NML: What interests you about the joke? (a social situation that relies so self-consciously on language, on language games)…

DDG: I have an ongoing interest. I am intrigued by the jokes themselves (structure, narrative etc), and by the performance that happens around the telling of a joke. A joke has a way of making an interlocutor into a co-conspirator. There seems to be a contract that is initiated by subtle body positioning. The simple act of telling a joke can make a public space private, or vice versa. Jokes are morally ambiguous. They can be ways of calling out injustice, or a nasty devices to perpetuate stereotypes. Theoretical writing on humor is interesting because its usually pretty terribly dry. I even taught a class called The Practical Joke once. Jokes are almost like little theories themselves. In the book "Inside Jokes" Daniel Dennet claims that they are little mental programs that are used to efficiently test the truth values and possible outcomes.  Most of all I appreciate the healing and psychologically reviving power of laughter. All this being said, I am not a good joke teller, and don't have a good repertoire of jokes at this time.

NML: What kind of relationship were you investigating in this project? Between the foreigner and the native-speaker? Between the man and the woman? Between people on the street?

DDG: Foreigner and native speaker, yes. The clueless and the expert. I played the clueless. There was the overarching joke that I didn't really know the language very well, let alone the linguistic and ideological subtitles of local humor. It did become (without planning) about men talking to men- a space that was not readily open to women. I saw that space as sad, masturbatory and closed in some ways, but also supportive and bolstering as it it made me feel in some sense understood and accepted (at least as a man). So it reflected both problematic attitudes and revealed a little beauty in both myself and the people that told me jokes.

NML: What are you making a picture of and why this fragment, as the thing which remains visible?

DDG: The videos are short set pieces in which I am told a joke by a local person. They are performances. The image is of one person trying to make another person understand something. What would normally happen instantaneously is put into slow motion.