LAUGHING COMPETITION (2006)
Kaleb -- Documentation of the 1st Annual AIDS Orphans Comedy Festival and Laughing Competition, Addis AbabaMulti-channel HD Video, 2006.
The world laughing champion is Girma Belachew from Ethiopia and he laughed for 2 hours and 10 minutes. The Sudden Flowers collective decided to produce something which "shows a different part of our lives" and so we staged the laughing competition. Contestants laughed for as long as they could. A panel of judges monitored the laughers. If someone was faking, they were disqualified. The competition was fierce, one of the favorites stumbled and jumped off the stage in tears after a few seconds. The champion, Marta, laughed for 28 minutes. Each channel portrays one of the laughing competitors. There can be up to 15 channels in an installation. In the resulting footage, it is difficult to distinguish whether the subject is laughing or crying. The event was cathartic and, by complicating the view of these children, these photographs and videos challenge the simplifying assumptions of the Western gaze.