Preceding Stefan Römer’s "Decon Sound Performance" later in the day, this panel provides further context for the performance and, in light of this year’s festival theme "Turmoil," discusses some of its wider aesthetic and political implications.
Psychedelic drugs and the production and reception of art and sound have been intrinsically linked throughout the ages. This link was of course especially evident in the pop culture of the late 1960s, when the UFO Club made its short-yet-lasting impact in London, hosting among others a now-famous performance by the early Pink Floyd with Syd Barret, or in experiments by Conrad Schnitzler and Hans Joachim Roedelius in Berlin with the foundation of their Zodiak Free Arts Lab in 1967. Both of these examples provide starting points for Römer’s performance. Here and elsewhere in art and pop culture, psychonautic practises not only formulated – and continue to formulate – techniques for self-exploration and new aesthetic experiences; they also helped to make room for indeterminacy and ambiguity in an otherwise highly-controlled society. Such practices propose alternative concepts of the self, of agency and society, that hold the potential to counter a dominant Zeitgeist prioritising social and economic functionality and efficiency above all else. Yet as the history of pop music demonstrates so clearly, drug use also always contains the very real risks of self-harm and eventual failure and collapse. In recent years, psychotropic substances are regaining legitimacy and topicality as therapeutic tools, and are also being considered in a different light through the expanding practice of psychedelic micro-dosing in an attempt to increase creativity and performance within the neo-liberal work place.
This panel takes a look at the role of psychotropic substances in art and music, and discusses the politics of drugs in light of their double-sided role as "pharmakon," i.e. as poison and cure.
Stefan Römer has been making performances and sound since the mid-1980s beside his extensively working on exhibitions and films.
Dr. Henrik Jungaberle (*1967) is an author and social scientist working in prevention and drug research. His focus is on transdisciplinary research in the fields of psychotherapy, psychoactive substances, non-problematic forms of consumption, and the psychedelic experience.
Ivo Gurschler teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and is writing his PhD thesis on mescaline.