Happy Pills by Arnaud Robert and Paolo Woods image
Happy Pills by Arnaud Robert and Paolo Woods image

KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival

Happy Pills by Arnaud Robert and Paolo Woods

A project looking at the relationship between happiness and medicine, exhibited at Kyotographie

The KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival, one of the most important photography festivals globally, welcomes the Swiss work “Happy Pills” for its 11th edition under the theme of “Border.” “Happy Pills” is an exhibition, a book and a film by Swiss journalist Arnaud Robert and Dutch-Canadian photographer Paolo Woods that investigate the relationship between happiness and medicine.

The task of defining happiness has long been delegated to religions, philosophies or even politics. Today this universal quest seems more and more to be the province of the pharmaceutical industry, which uses all of the tools of the modern age (science, marketing and communication) to offer everyone a standardized and automatic response to this ultimate human aspiration. More than ever, to be happy is a duty. For five years, journalist Arnaud Robert and photographer Paolo Woods travelled the world in search of Happy Pills, those drugs that can repair an invisible wound, those substances that can make people take action, help them to work and to get it up, those formulations that allow the depressed to avoid total collapse, the painkillers that the working poor gobble down so that they can keep on feeding their families. Can we put happiness in a pill?

Happy Pills by Arnaud Robert and Paolo Woods image

Talk event: Can we put happiness in a pill? In conversation with Arnaud Robert, author of ‘Happy Pills’

KYOTOGRAPHIE and the Embassy of Switzerland in Japan invite you to a public discussion with Swiss author Arnaud Robert, ahead the final weekend of his Kyoto exhibition ‘Happy Pills’ made in collaboration with photographer Paolo Woods. 

Date and time: May 12th (Friday), 18:00 (doors open 17:45)

Location: QUESTION 604-8006 Kyoto, Nakagyo-ku, Shimomaruyacho390-2

Free entrance

Opening remarks by Lucille Reyboz and Yusuke Nakanishi, co-founder and co-directors of KYOTOGRAPHIE

Talk moderated by Jonas Pulver, Head of Communications and Culture, Embassy of Switzerland in Japan

Arnaud Robert is a Swiss journalist, director and writer. His work has been published by Le Monde, Le Temps, La Repubblica, Les Inrockuptibles and many other international publications. He has directed five documentaries (including Bamako is a miracle, Bondyé Bon and Gangbé!). He is the author of several books including Hors-bord, co-authored with the painter Frederic Clot, STATE with Paolo Woods, and Journal d'un Blanc, a compilation of his columns in the Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste. He also wrote 50 Summers of Music about the Montreux Jazz Festival. Arnaud Robert has received the Jean-Dumur Journalism Prize, the Prix des Radios Francophones Publiques and, in 2020, the Swiss Press Award for his investigation on the toilet revolution (heidi.news). His most recent project, realized with photographer Paolo Woods, is an exploration of our relationship to drugs entitled Happy Pills: it includes a documentary film, a book and an exhibition.

Story’s cover:
©︎ Paolo Woods & Arnaud Robert