Charley Friedman / Artist Statement

My work is primarily concerned with the investigation of signs and symbols. I am obsessed with the ways in which the American cultural identity is constructed around these signifiers that have no inherent meaning beyond what has been ascribed to them. I explore the ways that objects can take on meaning of either the sacred, intellectual, or consumable. The work questions what kind of objects can take on this meaning, as well as the ways in which we as a society agree to this assignation of value. My approach to understanding this contract is often presented through the lens of humor. As a material, humor has no mass or volume yet it is infinitely malleable. It can magnify our vulnerabilities and prejudices: humor reveals our humanity. It is important to me that my work not get trapped just in the intellectual realm. Humor allows the ideas to take root in the body. It comes from the gut, and in this way is inherently emotional. The crux of my practice is to explore the absurd, tragic and contradictory nature of living that humor can uniquely portray.