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Interruptions: Barry Sykes

An Introduction to Laughter Yoga


An Introduction to Laughter Yoga was an online workshop led by artist Barry Sykes on Thursday 21st May, as part of the Interruptions series organised by the Holden Gallery. The full workshop is available on YouTube for a limited time to enjoy, please feel free to join in.

An Introduction to Laughter Yoga was the latest in a series of attempts by Barry Sykes to recreate from memory a lesson with the same name he attended a decade ago. Laughter Yoga is the breathing and movement exercise that utilises fake, forced laughter for supposed mental and physical benefits.

Sykes leads an audience of participants through the movements he thinks he witnessed that day, becoming a collective experiment in the potential of these exercises. The performance changes each time, as memory fades, improvisations vary, and the piece adapts to different locations. So far this has included a council debating chamber, naturist club, Downs syndrome play group, dementia centre, museums and galleries. This time devised especially for Zoom due to the COVID-19 restrictions, the artifice is pushed one step further. Rather than gathering in one room to respond to each other’s actions, we join in from our own lockdown homes in an exercise in public and private space and emotion. A replica lesson of fake laughter held in a virtual meeting.

About the Artist

Barry Sykes' performances and sculptural objects take existing formats, like lessons, feedback forms, photo shoots, theatrical props or communal rituals, and remodels them to examine the uncertainties of human interaction and edges of acceptable behaviour. Recent events have been presented at The Museum of London; Focal Point Gallery, Southend, UK; Oakwood sun Club, Essex, UK; The University of Bath, UK and as part of Art Night 2019. He is also the founder of the Sauna Reading Group.

Part of the Interruptions programme of free events provided by the Holden Gallery.