Pleasure is central to our lives and communication/design and art play a major role in our relationship to it. Pleasure is an episodic phenomenon. As we all learn early on it does never really last for very long, therefore we are constantly seeking for ways to get it.
While pleasure can be used to live life fully, as well as to render people into tools it seems we rarely think of it outside its immediate effects and certainly we think even less of pleasure as social practice and something we could relate to the world in transformative ways that challenge the status quo.
Memefest 2016 is interested in pleasure in what we see as its fundamental qualities.
Pleasure is designed through visual communication/media and technology and channels into our aspirations and lifestyles. Aren’t we supposed to have pleasure all the time and does not the promise of success in life promise us a life full of pleasure? We can chose to do this, but in order to be successful we have to follow written and unwritten rules- but who makes the rules and who are the rules benefiting?
As a human experience pleasure can be
an illness or a cure and many times it can be both at the same time. It can
bring people together, connect them and decrease human suffering. But it can also set them apart and cause harm.
Pleasure is connected with substances- anything from food to drugs, anything we take into our bodies to experience pleasure. If you think of it- in this way we experience pleasure many times a day. But how does this make us relate to the world?
We are interested in processes where pleasure meets with conflict and especially in ways we can experience pleasure in our everyday life, which can contribute to its radical transformation towards social justice. How can pleasure transform the way we live, laugh, listen, eat, create, think, imagine, dream, work, play and relate to each other?
But let us explain more.
THE PLEASURE OF MEDIA
A spectacle is a social relation mediated by the image. But exposure through social media brings pleasure- it can make us feel good. And as pleasure never really lasts for long, we tend to look for ways to enhance it: not only more exposure of ourselves, but more exposure of ourselves through pleasurable content where pleasure becomes image. Pleasure connects with other pleasure: food selfies for example are some of the most popular images on the Internet. Because of pleasure they have very strong communicative potential. What else can pleasure media be used for? Can pleasure media become a medium for social change?
THE PLEASURE OF HOSPITALITY (and being human)
Currently Millions of refugees are trying to save their lives and find a better future risking their lives on their way. Families, children without parents are traveling alone and under extremely dangerous conditions, people leaving behind everything they had.
In Slovenia, a small county in the heart of Europe, 24 high school teachers have recently signed a protest letter against six refugees from Syria – aged 10-14-who lost their parents and were fleeing a brutal war zone. The refugees have being offered accommodation in the high school dormitory, but educators were against it. The majority of parents of the Slovenian kids attending the high school signed the letter too. The pleasure of giving hospitality was abandoned for the pleasure of submitting to fear.
The French TV program, Zone Interdite showed a documentary where refugees from Afghanistan on their two year long way to Europe described Paris as a warm place, where helicopters were spraying perfume all over the city.
What can we do?
The German project Refugees Welcome is a network of people offering home to refugees. In exchange homeowners experience the pleasure of sharing and learn about another culture through new human relations in their every day life.
German artist Thomas Kilpper’s, “Lighthouse for Lampedusa,” was created to provide essential orientation at sea and help to navigate refugee boats into safety when approaching this south Italian Island. It should house a museum and cultural center, the only one on the island. The Lighthouse is conceived as a tower and a landmark building, capable of hosting a diverse and trans-national programs of communication, negotiation, exhibitions, concerts and other cultural events on its ground floor. It would serve as a place that attracts not only new visitors to the island but also local people—making Lampedusa not just a location to talk about, but also a place to learn from and listen to the ideas of others. The tower was partially composed with stranded migrant rubber boats from Lampedusa.
THE PLEASURE OF DRUGS
In February 2016 Australia experienced an incredible drug bust: 1.2 BN worth of liquid methamphetamine, used to produce ICE/Crystal Meth found in silicon bra inserts and art supplies.
Such a huge find of such a harmful drug? Each human is a product of her time. In the end ICE is known to make people fearless. Is it a coincidence that the word “anxiety” and “anxiety symptoms” is searched for on Google mostly by Australians?
What is the reaction on the mayor ICE bust? We have seen many calls for more control, but we haven’t heard anyone asking what are the reasons of anxiety in times of radical uncertainty in a capitalist society.
Drugs as pleasure have always played a fundamental part of our lives. Some drugs are prohibited, some are made legal and with it pleasure is regulated. This does not mean that the prohibition is successful; the war on drugs has failed a long time ago, because it renders pleasure into a tool of capitalist dominance. Capitalisms business models are based on addiction. New clothes, new technology, permanently new and innovative strategies in institutions, new cars, new mobile phones new this and that, are what we can see everyday. And our addictions rising- just think of our addiction from screens and social media and the internet- the perfect complementary drug to the pharmaceuticals- the legal drug of choice- creating an atmosphere, but never demanding, or even destroying – focus or attention. While “expanding horizons”, “exploring consciousness” and "hedonism" used to be a quality of drugs, pharmaceuticals are correctives, ironing out inappropriate behavior. No wonder the drugged masses like to do the “right thing”. Little pleasure the pharmaceuticals give us, we must add as well.
Many times people who change the world for the better would never think of themselves as activists. They live a life of love, solidarity, friendship …and pleasure and change things through their practice of everyday life. Many times, people who “are doing good” seem to achieve the opposite. And many times it’s even hard to say how much good and how much harm we are doing, all at once, stuck in contradictory positions. Pleasure can teach us a lot about these relations.
We are interested in processes where pleasure meets with conflict and especially in ways we can experience pleasure in our everyday life, which can contribute to its radical transformation. How can pleasure transform the way we live, laugh, listen, eat, create, think, imagine, dream, play and relate to each other?
We are interested in Critical Writing that responds to these provocations from the honest and uneasy depths of your gut. You can respond the whole or a part that intrigues you. Now, respond to this position from personal observations, from research, or from a mixture of all three with your Critical Writing.
Submit your work here.
Deadline for submission to the Festival Friendly Competition is 30. SEPTEMBER 2016.
Deadline of 250 words abstracts for the Memefest Symposium is October 15th.