Photos: Is Bhutan the Happiest Place on Earth?
In 1972, Bhutan became the only country on earth to measure prosperity according to Gross National Happiness, a mashup of data on cultural and environmental preservation with economic development. Artist Jonathan Harris spent two weeks interviewing 117 Bhutanese people in 2007 to learn more about it. The result is the photo and audio archive "Balloons of Bhutan," which was released last month.
Interviewees were asked to rank their happiness on a scale from one to 10, then inflate the corresponding number of balloons.
Harris photographed each person's hands, which he believes reveal much about people's lives.
“I thought it would be fun to do something a little more silly,” Harris says in the project’s introduction. “Because it’s happiness, after all. It’s supposed to be somewhat silly.” Each subject was asked to pose with a funny face.
Harris asked everyone to write a wish on their favorite color balloon.
At the end of his trip, Harris ascended the mountain pass of Dochula and reinflated the wish balloons among the prayer flags.
Read more about the "Balloons of Bhutan" project, and the stories it leaves out.
Photos courtesy of Jonathan Harris