Mayor Gregor Robertson and visiting Chinese artist Yue Minjun invite Vancouverites to bring their smiles to Morton Park this Thursday (July 13) at 10 a.m. as the mayor proclaims the official Day of Laughter.
This event celebrates Yue’s first visit to Vancouver—but the artist’s face will be recognizable to anyone who’s walked through English Bay’s Morton Park. His sculpture, A-maze-ing Laughter, depicts his likeness in the shape of fourteen laughing bronze men. The piece has become a notable landmark in downtown’s west end since it was installed in 2009, and was the only piece of public art nominated in 2013’s Great Places in Canada contest. In fact, the sculpture was supposed to be a temporary fixture slated to return to China after 2011, but it was purchased with a donation of $1.5 million from Chip and Shannon Wilson, founder of the lululemon chain.
The Vancouver Biennale is putting on the free public event to celebrate Minjun’s visit, and to amplify the message that laughter is a human right.
Yue's artistic practice emerges from the "cynical realism" school of post-Tiananmen Chinese artists, whose art often features repetition, humour, and irony to address the disillusionment felt across the community. While Yue has removed himself from the movement in recent years, his work almost always features a laughing face, often as a mask for more complicated feelings. A-maze-ing Laughter, while it's a crowd-pleaser for children and adults alike, also reminds us of the way laughter can be healing in difficult times.
The day’s programming will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a proclamation from the mayor, a noon-hour Laughing Yoga session, complimentary refreshments, giveaways, and a chance to meet the man whose art reminds us of the power of laughter. Photos, jokes, and social media sharing are highly encouraged.
More information on the Day of Laughter can be found here.