Curated by: Ilari Laamanen
Artists: John Divola, Camille Henrot, Maija Luutonen, Armi Ratia
Jean Cocteau was once asked: “If your house was on fire, what would be the one thing you would save?” “The fire”, he replied.
The pleasure principle (German: *Lustprinzip) is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoiding of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. Specifically, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id, and possibly the strongest impulse guiding individual’s life. In his later writings, Sigmund Freud refers to the “compulsion to repeat”, and declares that it might well be powerful enough to disregard the pleasure principle.
The exhibition The Pleasure Principle aims on tapping into this tension. The underlying motive is to create a scenario that deals as much with our complex relationship with nature and habitat as it does with transformation and letting go. An emphasis is put on the physical shared environment but the tone is psychologically charged. The pleasure principle acts as a reminder of the interconnectivity of human beings and their actions: that individual choices are always linked to grander narratives.
However, the definitions of these narratives are under constant re-evaluation as in the context of this exhibition are definitions of pleasant and unpleasant. Furthermore it is important to pay attention to the act of repetition: both on individual and societal level. The line between pleasant and compulsive can be sometimes difficult to draw. Therefore the concepts of primal and forced need to be reevaluated as well.
The Pleasure Principle is a co-production of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and Sinne, Helsinki. The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland.
Image: Camille Henrot, The Strife of Love in a Dream, 2011. Video, 11’37. Courtesy the artist, kamel mennour Paris, Metro Pictures New York and Centre Pompidou Paris.