Documents 16. “It’s Just a Joke, Love!” Is it a Joke?

Misogyny and Symbolic Violence in Graphic Humour

Thursday, 4 March 2021 - 6pm

Free, until full capacity is reached, with prior ticket collection on the Museo Reina Sofía website from 10am on Wednesday, 3 March. A maximum of 1 per person. Doors open 30 minutes before the encounter

Nouvel Building, Auditorium 200 and Online platform 
70 people
Organised by
Museo Reina Sofía
Museo Reina Sofía

The Documents programme explores the relationships between art and publishing, and other subjects that include the effects of archive on narratives of art history, the artist’s book and publishing as an artistic practice. This edition features the participation of Raquel Manchado, who will present and carry out a critical reading of part of her graphic art collection, comprising postcards, comic strips, posters, calendars, newspapers, magazines and other widely distributed formats published since the early twentieth century and which, under the veneer of humour, degraded women over their physical appearance or behaviour.

Humorous postcards which, along with proverbs and folk songs, would be the equivalent to today’s memes in the pre-internet age, circulating as viral messages that travelled from letterbox to letterbox and by word of mouth. On the basis that humour is never neutral, as well as its capacity to question the established order and work as a powerful normalising force, this encounter interrogates supposedly humorous images which instead instil prejudice and normalise stereotypes. Jokes about “spinsters”, “henpecked husbands”, “fat women”, “mothers-in-law”, “blacks”, “Muslims” or “wrong” people operate as the perfect vehicle for discrimination and symbolic violence.    

“You made your bed, now lie in it”, as the saying goes. Critically observing these images leads to a reflection on the perpetuation of such stereotypes and draws back the veil of “normality” to once again question that which has been seen ad nauseam, something with an urgent need to be unlearned. 

Raquel Manchado (Alicante, 1977) is a visual artist and editor of the publishing house Antorcha Ediciones, where she researches symbolic violence and misogyny in graphic humour and popular culture. She also publishes books, fanzines, libelles and facsimiles, as well as other unclassifiable projects.