press release

In January 1962, an unexplained laughter epidemic began in the town of Kashasha in Tanganyika (now Tanzania) in Central Africa, spanning six months, spreading through the region, and affecting hundreds. The epidemic began with three schoolgirls in a classroom, possibly the result of a joke, and quickly spiraled out of control. The year 1962 marked Tanganyika's independence, and citizens were facing significant change. In this context, the epidemic appears to have been an outbreak of mass hysteria - a Mass Psychogenic Illness, a blanket term for the spread of symptoms of illness among a cohesive group in which the cause is psychological rather than organic. The story prompts consideration of the nature of the laughter, this ubiquitous and seemingly banal action.

presents, with the works of five artists, laughing as an ambiguous and involuntary mode of communication: a contagious, paradoxical, destabilizing, and corporal language. It is considered here apart from the joke and instead as an action or object itself; a passionate response with the ability to unsettle (ourselves, others, social order).

An Unsolicited Proposal Program Winner, 2012-2013.

Kari Cwynar (1985) is a Canadian curator and writer currently based in Amsterdam. With a background in Art History and an interest in language, Cwynar has written about art for numerous magazines and exhibition catalogues, and has held curatorial positions at The Banff Centre and the National Gallery of Canada. She is a participant in the 2012-2013 de Appel Curatorial Programme, and recently co-curated the group exhibition Bourgeois Leftovers at de Appel arts centre, Amsterdam.


Christian Boltanski, Jacqueline Hoang Nguyen, Yoshua Okon, Stuart Ringholt, Althea Thauberger

Kari Cwynar