Meeting Laughter with Social Critique: Images from Venezuela’s I International Clown Festival

With a focus on the social role of the clown, events in poorer communities and flood refuges, and entertainment for both adults and children, Venezuela’s I International Clown Festival displayed circus art with a difference.


Held between 25 and 29 April as a collaboration between Venezuela’s National Clown Foundation (Fundacir) and the Culture Foundation of the Mayor of Caracas, the festival sought to promote the work and societal role of clowns while utilising public spaces in the Venezuelan capital recovered by the Venezuelan government for the benefit of citizens.

According to Jaycker Oropreza, event producer and Vice President of Fundacir, media of communication have reduced the role of the clown and circus artists to just figures of entertainment, ignoring that through laughter they can also be agents of social critique.

On the opening day held in the Catia Theatre in Caracas, acclaimed Argentinian clown artist Walter Velasquez gave a performance for adults entitled “Emotional Rescue” aimed at educating the adult population through the medium of laughter.

On Saturday 28 April a parade took place in the city centre “to spread happiness to those passing by,” said Oropreza to press. Events were also held in communities throughout the capital as well as in flood refuge shelters, where thousands of Venezuelans have been temporarily housed following extreme flooding in late 2010.

The festival was named in honour of Evelio “Pepito” Chacon, who was central to the birth of Venezuela’s clown and circus art movement and also founded the Venezuelan School of Clowns.

Oropreza said that “Pepito” was chosen to honour the festival because those he entertained with laughter he also provoked to think about injustices and social inequalities not always apparent in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Following the success of the cultural initiative, the festival is being scheduled to take place again next year.

Text by Ewan Robertson for Venezuelanalysis.com