A-maze-ing Laughter

A-maze-ing Laughter, Vancouver: Address, A-maze-ing Laughter Reviews: 4.5/5

A-maze-ing Laughter
4.5
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< 1 hour
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The area
Neighbourhood: Central
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4.5
357 reviews
Excellent
185
Very good
121
Average
43
Poor
4
Terrible
4

Christiinaaaa
Los Angeles, CA39 contributions
Look at me
Feb. 2020
It is okay. You can take picture or stare. It is a reminder to stop and enjoy, life roses with smile or a laugh.
Written 22 January 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

PookyCake
Victoria, Canada11,265 contributions
Laughter as Mask
Nov. 2020
A-maze-ing Laughter consists of 14 bronze sculptures made in the likeness of the artist, Yue Minjun. Installed in 2009 as part of the Vancouver Biennale exhibition, these unique sculptures have gone on to become “one of the city’s most beloved public art piece[s],” according to Amusing Planet, and are a “notable landmark in downtown’s west end,” as noted by the Georgia Straight. Indeed, it’s easy to see why: Each figure is an amusing caricature. They all stand with their eyes shut, mouth wide open and teeth showing, as if they’re going to burst at any moment from hysterical and uncontrolled laughter. In fact, the only thing different about each sculpture is their pose. Beyond that, they are uniform copies of one another. Still, these laughing figures beckon and call to those who walk by. You may find them grotesque or you may find them humorous, but the point is they’ve grabbed your attention.

I first stumbled across A-maze-ing Laughter almost exactly 6 years ago. A dear friend and I were just coming from a late dinner – walking back to the hotel – when we spied the 14 figures in Morton Park. “What the heck is that” we said, before walking over to them and snapping a few silly photos. It really is amazing, when you think of it, how much “pull” this piece of public art has. You don’t know what it is, but you still have to go see it and then you cannot help but smile and laugh . . . all while imitating the various poses, of course! That, to me, is a sign of good art: It reels you in and forces you to interact with it, be it at a surface level or a more contemplative one.

At a “surface level,” A-maze-ing Laughter is pretty straightforward. An inscription nearby states, “May this sculpture inspire laughter, playfulness and joy in all who experience it.” In short, the sculpture is designed to bring a sense of happiness to all who encounter it – and it certainly does plenty of that. If you came here pre-COVID, you’d see throngs of people taking pictures, imitating the sculptures and laughing as they did so. It is for this reason that my dear friend, Renegade225, was able to write that A-maze-ing Laughter “is always a feature with tourists and locals alike.” Indeed, during our visit earlier this month, my partner and I couldn’t help but be “infected” by laughter as we ambled about the figures and captured our own images on smartphone technology (okay, maybe “infected” was a poor word choice!).

Of course, A-maze-ing Laughter carries with it a far deeper meaning than mere laughter and joy – and this becomes readily apparent when you “unmask” the laughing figures and acknowledge their sameness. To quote Chris D, they are “grotesque,” but not for the reasons we might initially think. Why the exaggerated form? Why the exaggerated laugh? There is something of a contradiction here and to figure out what that is we need to learn a bit more about the artist.

Yue Minjun grew up during China’s Cultural Revolution, which is widely acknowledged as a time of significant repression. Individuality was shunned in favour of conformity and the state. For the most part, artistic expression was silenced and only began to mature – as a counter-movement – following the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. Thus, we witness the birth of “cynical realism” of which Minjun is a major figure. Under this school, humour, repetition, irony and cynicism are used to great effect to engage individuals and foster a multi-faceted dialogue. Within this context, A-maze-ing Laughter takes on a whole new meaning: We are encouraged to explore this “maze”; the figures all look the same; their expressions are humorous, yet there’s a certain strain of irony behind the laughter. We may be laughing, but not just for fun anymore. Now that’s deep!

At day’s end, A-maze-ing Laughter is an enjoyable piece of public art not because it makes us smile, but because it makes us think. The next time you wander by this “iconic cultural beacon,” be sure to reflect on the power of laughter and how we might use it to challenge social norms and customs.
Written 8 December 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

slickdog
Vancouver, Canada87 contributions
Near English Bay
Nov. 2020
Nice place to visit; a true area for beaches and restaurants nearby. This area is located on the foot of Davie Street and Beach Ave near Stanley Park.
Written 20 November 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Elena Or
3 contributions
Fourteen
Nov. 2020
In our personal view, the sculptures looked comical, we are sorry to say. These 14 statues are magnet for photo taking.
Written 17 November 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

FlyAtNight
Brooklin, Canada3,204 contributions
A fun stop
Sep. 2020
I found this sculpture of 14 laughing men while on the way back from English Bay Beach. It was fun to wander among them. One of the sculptures was wearing a mask, so years from now when I am looking at my pictures, I will know when it was taken.
Written 19 October 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

toddlerpants
Droitwich, UK983 contributions
This made me chuckle
Aug. 2019
These 14 bronze statues of the artists likeness are all laughing.
And this made me laugh chuckle and giggle.
So worth a visit I think and something that doesn't take up a big chunk of your day.
Written 31 July 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

John C
Christchurch, New Zealand12 contributions
The place for family fun photos
Aug. 2019
Everyone is happy to play the fool here and mimmick the statues. We brought home dozens of pictures form this great little display.
Written 13 April 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

beegal
Iowa City, IA106 contributions
Great outdoor sculpture!
Feb. 2020
There is a side sign, hidden beneath the trees, that says "no climbing on the sculptures". Unfortunately, no one saw it (including us, until we were leaving) and we saw many climbers trying to get good photos. A wonderful, light-hearted piece of public art.
Written 28 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Bob B
Vancouver, Canada24 contributions
Add some laughter to your day!
Feb. 2020
Love these sculptures, what a brilliant idea, everyone is happy around them! Overlooking the lovely English Bay.
Written 15 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

RubyW
Sydney, Australia12 contributions
Funny Statues
Jan. 2020
The different post of the statue definitely puts a smile on your face. We took photos copying the different poses which started other people doing the similar thing.
Written 11 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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