In the digital try-out "Happily Ever After", Benjamin Burger gets to the bottom of the industrial promise of happiness, questions which biopolitical assumptions underlie it and how various emotional assistants teach him to make his inner world blossom while the outer world continues to deteriorate.
"A person who feels good is a good person. A person who feels bad is a bad person" is how philosopher Eva Illouz describes the paradigm of the "happiness dictatorship". Behind this logic is an industry for which the perception of happiness is a resource. It surfs on the promise that one's own happiness and well-being are only a question of one's own worldview. Various apps promise that negative emotions can be controlled and personal happiness can be trained. "You just need to weather the storm." In exercise programmes, they hold out the prospect of an ever-improved, even happier self. These apps for emotion control are an expression of a technocratic worldview, for which everything, including one's own psychological feelings, can be programmed. In fact, the Happy Interfaces promise that negativity is an evolutionary aberration, but that we can re-polarise ourselves for happiness. "I know it looks like science fiction but it's not".
At Tatwerk, Benjamin Burger and musician Ray Herlitz will present a first show based on their previous research in the form of a digital videolecture performance.
Supported by Stadt Zürich Kultur
»Between Us« invites selected artists to realize independent, digital and discursive formats within their own work processes explicitly designed for streaming.
Supported by Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.
Research and performance: Benjamin Burger
Music: Ray Herlitz
Musikproduktion: Moritz von Papp
Benjamin Burger is an interdisciplinary artist. He works in Zurich and Berlin at the intersection of theater, performance and design. He is the founder of the production Extraleben and works in cooperation with other artists* or solo. With his work he explores the pathologies of hypercapitalism.
»It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.« The statement aptly describes a society that perceives its circumstances as having no alternative. Along with this omnipresent fatalistic attitude towards life, which Mark Fisher calls »Capitalist Realism«, Benjamin asks himself in his artistic works to what extent breaking out of the system is still possible at all. He assumes a general state of exhaustion in our meritocracy, which for him is symptomatic of the exploitative practice that underlies this system. The collapse is not only constantly threatening psychologically (burn out, despression, psychoses) but also the ecosystem is on the verge of exhaustion. Based on this, Benjamin places an emphasis on the psychological consequences of climate catastrophe. The climate crisis may represent the ultimate trauma to our society, for with it the narrative of infinite fitness and value creation begins to crumble. One must radically renegotiate what it means to be human on this planet. To this end, Benjamin conceives of art and theater as a speculative space for thought. In his current research »Happy Points« Benjamin investigates whether a different understanding of happiness is not also necessary for social change.