People Playing With Sculptures: An A-Mazing Weekend

Monday September 28th, 2009

It was one last blast of sunshine and warm weather – a perfect weekend for late-September.

The clear and sunny skies brought people out into the parks of Vancouver and thousands of people had a little fun on their way to English Bay with Yue Minjun’s hugely popular A-Mazing Laughter installation.

Intrepid photographer Dan Fairchild caught some of the action with his camera.  Looks like everybody was having a good time.

Amazing Dan 4x 05Getting a little fresh with the artwork!  Photo by Dan Fairchild.

Yue Minjun uses his own iconic face in a state of hysterical laughter as a signature trademark. Recognized universally as a sign of happiness, the smile raises questions of intent and interpretation. One of the most influential contemporary artists in China, Yue Minjun represents the new wave of Chinese artistic freedom.

A-Mazing Laughter marks Yue Minjun’s Canadian debut.

Amazing Dan 4X 10Faces are flowers soaking up the sun.  Photo by Dan Fairchild.

In A-Mazing Laughter Beijing-based artist Yue Minjun depicts his own iconic laughing image, with gaping grins and closed eyes in a state of hysterical laughter.  These laughing figures are the signature trademark of the artist. They are not a conventional self-portrait, as they tell us little about the person portrayed or of the reason they are laughing so hysterically.

The longer you look at these cast bronze figures, the more the contradiction of the silent, frozen form of sculpture begins to intrude.  We see, but do not hear the laughter.  The contorted poses of the figure suggest animation and a cartoon form of an anonymous person. The laughter appears to be convulsive, intense, and manic, but also insincere and forced.

The scale is “un-naturally” large –exaggerated and excessive like the laughter.

Amazing Dan 4X 09The poses are infectious.  Photo by Dan Fairchild.

Yue Minjun was a leading figure in what became to be known in the 1990’s as Cynical Realism, an artistic movement that emerged in China after the 1989 student demonstrations in Tiananmen and the suppression of artistic expression.  Humor, cynicism, repetition and an emphasis on the individual are common characteristics of this artistic movement.

Yue Minjun was one of the first artists to translate this new ironic view of contemporary life, one that is expressed in the nihilistic hilarity at a time when little was funny.

Amazing Dan 4X 06You gotta keep your head up around these guys.  Photo by Dan Fairchild.

For more information about Yue Minjun’s incredible work please visit

For more information about Dan Fairchild’s great camera work please check out his Flickr Photostream.

Like what you see?