The Smile Club’s choreography, scenario and upcoming movie are inspired by psychiatric treatments that allegedly occurred in Budapest, Hungary, during the Great Depression. After WWI, the featured town is dubbed “Suicide City”. A school is opened with a very simple goal: teach inhabitants to smile, thus increasing their serotonin production. It is believed that smiling will cure the impoverished town and its citizens, collectively traumatized by war, of the desire to take their own life.
The Smile Club explores how attractive, yet how ridiculous, this idea can be. Retrospectively, it seems odd to associate the temporary relief of a forced smile to the experience of real happiness. It now seems even more absurd to misunderstand the slow and autonomous process of replacing negative thought patterns linked to trauma from cancer treatments, a common occurrence in the history of psychiatry.
However, even nowadays, depressed people are often advised to smile more. The Smile Club imagines a fictitious version of the “forced smile” experiment
Alexandre Carlos, Charles-Alexis Desgagnes, Emanuelle Martin, Geneviève Gagné, Janelle Hacault, Marco Edouard, Sara Harton.
Crédit photo performance: Damian Siqueiros