Friday, February 19, 2010

Sculpting a laugh or two . . .

Playing tourist last weekend in Vancouver, along with the thousands and thousands of Olympic visitors, I finally took some photos of this sculpture which appeared at English Bay in 2009 as part of Vancouver Biennale.
As you can read on the plaque above, it's by Yue Minjun who says that he has "always found laughter irresistible." Certainly, these comic fellows are hard to resist staring at, and their hilarity gets imitated by passers-by.
In fact, I wonder if, as the weather warms up enough later this spring and summer, we'll see the laughter groups stretched out on the grass nearby doing their odd ha-ha-ha exercises. Have you seen this phenomenon yet? or is it still "coming soon to a park near you"? Last summer in Vanc'r, running along English Bay, I'd occasionally see clusters of 4, 5, even 6 "laughers" assembled on their backs on the grass in such a way that chests could resonate against each other -- they begin with what seems very artificially forced ha-ha-ha, ho-ho-ho sounds and gestures, but as they get into the rhythm, the laughter begins to seem genuine, and there's a point where I could even see that it might be as therapeutic as promised. Still, I think I'd just as soon do my belly-laughing at home over an old Malcolm in the Middle or Friends episode!

But these guys! Aren't they having fun?!

I'm trying to channel some of that therapeutic laughter -- more complications have ensued with my mother and childhood echoes ring surprisingly clearly across the decades. Plus I've got to be part of a panel presentation at a Colloquium today and then embark on a marking marathon. Still, it's the beginning of Reading Break so at least no teaching adrenaline needs to be spent. And the weather is stunning -- I've just noticed that the sun has coaxed out the first of the omphalos, a pretty little forget-me-not like flower. So I have a happy camera hour in the garden sometime tomorrow to look forward to.

Meanwhile, you keep laughing, okay?


  1. Instead of watching the news in the a.m. I turn on Craig Ferguson's monologue from the night before. He ALWAYS makes em laugh out loud. I find that on the days when I start our laughing I have a better shot of keeping that up throughout the day.

    Thanks for sharing some of your hometown with us!

    Happy weekend!!

  2. I'm enjoying your "tourist's eye view" of Vancouver! (I'm still hoping we can spend some more time there and on Vancouver Island sometime in the near future. LOVE that area!)

    I do agree that laughter is theraputic, but prefer it to happen more "organically."

    Word verification is "water" appropriate!

  3. A polite question: Are the sculptures meant to be there forever ;)?

  4. But those sculptures kind of scare me:(. I suppose I'm too sensitive. Good luck with your mom...

  5. Oh my! I am probably the only person who has never heard of this phenomenon sweeping the world. I find it a bit odd, though. Wishing you a lovely weekend!

  6. Hi Mater!-Surprise. Please come over and visit my blog!

  7. LBR: I agree! Nothing like a good belly laugh to make the day go better.
    Pseu: Yes, I can't help but be skeptical about the contrived approach. As for you visiting here again, I do hope that happens! Maybe you'll even get over to my place one of these days. . .
    Metscan: Some of the Biennale Sculptures from earlier years have become permanent fixtures -- I'll show one in the next short while -- but I'm not sure what the process is for deciding which ones and for budget issues (they're very obviously costly works).
    LPC: There's definitely a slightly sinister edge . . . not sure yet what that's about but they do seem to exist on the edge between comic and sinister.
    Angie: Well, you know we west coasters and our hippie-New Age sensibilities. . .
    Metscan: Thanks so much!!

  8. I've participated in those laughter-yoga gatherings a few times and never got beyond feeling forced and false. And I *love* laughing, so I look for opportunities to evoke the real thing. (Doesn't it feel fantastic, just like a runner's endorphin bath?) And those sculptures would at least generate a wide grin. Bon courage with the other matters.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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