In an artificial world, the formula for happiness is reduced to the use of external synthetic substances. With the help of them running through the veins of an individual, one appears in another emotional dimension and becomes more or less human for a while. The secret formula for happiness is public, but is it enough to be really happy?
In this work, theater maker and visual artist Dries Verhoeven explores the world of artificial happiness that is increasingly available to us in the form of drugs, painkillers and antidepressants. Everything happens in a small concrete building situated in the public space. It looks like a cross between a public toilet and a pharmacy. This illicit store is manned by a humanoid, a human-looking robot. She talks to us about different drugs, painkillers and antidepressants we can use to tweak our emotional reality by re-jigging the serotonin and dopamine levels in our brain. In the combination of robotics and drugs, the work explores the zone where the human and the artificial merge; where, aided by synthetic substances we can rehumanise or become more than human. Or escape our human state entirely, for a while.
Dries Verhoeven is a theater maker and visual artist that creates installations, performances, and happenings in museums, on location, and in the public spaces of cities. His works highlight aspects of the everyday social reality we live in and critically evaluate the relationships between the spectators, performers, ordinary reality, and art. He is not concerned with conveying a statement about reality but mainly about unbalancing the visitor to evoke a shared vulnerability between the viewer and the viewed work. With gestures, which radically affect the public order of everyday life, he hopes to sow the seeds of doubt about the systems that inconspicuously influence our thoughts and actions. In recent years, the current crisis mindset and the influence of digital media on interpersonal relationships, in particular, have formed the basis for his projects.