Israel Wins Buenos Aires Book Fair Award for Humor Booth

The booth used a ‘risometer’ to measure the power of visitors’ laughs, impressing the judges of the book fair and leading Israel to win an award for ‘originality and creativity.’

Students visit the 42nd Buenos Aires Book Fair, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, April 21, 2016.
AP/Natacha Pisarenko

Israel’s booth at the Buenos Aires Book Fair dedicated to humor was awarded a prize for “originality and creativity.”

A jury made up of officials from the Argentine National Culture Ministry and Buenos Aires city Culture Ministry, design, architecture and fairs-management professionals announced the award on Friday. The Israeli ambassador to Argentina, Dorit Shavit, accepted the award at a ceremony on Friday night.

The booth, almost completely devoid of furniture, includes a “factory of laugh” and a “risometer,” that measures the power of the visitors’ laughs.

Professors and students of ORT Argentina created for the booth a machine “which transforms the sounds in graphics to measure the power of the laughs,” Dario Mischener, director of Information Technology and Communications at ORT told JTA. The “Factory of Laughs” combined the technology with the visitors’ funny experiences and sent them to a Facebook page created as a virtual part of the fair booth.

The idea for the space and facilities were designed by the Israeli embassy in Argentina and the advertising agency BasevichCrea. “We wanted to show Israeli humor and Israeli associations with joy. We have created an original experience within a book fair – a factory of laughs,” Javier Basevich, CEO of BasevichCrea, told JTA. He was also the creative designer of the booth when Israel won the same prize in 2014. The motto of that fair was “creative energy.”

The Israel booth is just an exhibition space, it does not sell books.

This year, Israeli cartoonist Nir Molad participated in the fair activities, with drawing activities for kids, and a workshop for Argentinean cartoonists on May 3, the “Israel Day” at the fair.

Hosted in the La Rural exhibition center in Palermo, the 42nd Annual Buenos Aires Book Fair will present more than 1,500 events across 19 days and feature a total of 2,500 lectures, book presentations and artistic events until its close on May 9.

This year two Nobel Prize for literature award winners attended the fair and signed books for visitors: Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa and South African author John M. Coetzee. It reportedly is the most well-attended book fair in the Spanish-speaking world.