The darkly funny, often crude drawings hung salon-style in Marlborough Chelsea’s upstairs gallery are a surprising twist for L.A.-based Stanya Kahn, who is better known for her lo-fi, often improvised videos and performance work. “Die Laughing” includes one video—her latest, the feature-length Don’t Go Back to Sleep (2014)—which follows a ragtag group of people in blue scrubs as they party and perform impromptu surgeries in and around abandoned luxury homes. In an interview published in A.i.A.‘s June/July issue, Kahn talks about being “uncomfortable with things that are too serious” and hoping that her work is funny, but not “just funny.” Kahn’s drawings—several featuring anthropomorphic worms doing things like having a conversation, reading a book or drinking beer; others showing a pile of poo flecked with gold dust—manage to be both laugh-out-loud funny as well as absurd, tragic and insightful.
Pictured: Stanya Kahn: Play It As It Lays, 2015, ink on paper, 11¼ by 16¼ inches. Courtesy the artist and Marlborough Chelsea, New York.