For the seventh edition of Rooms of Now, Vleeshal invited artist Hardy Hill to develop new work for an exhibition in the abandoned movie theatre in the Schuttershof building complex.
The work My Submission, an audiovisual installation, was made in collaboration with Stephen Hill and Vincent Hill.
Voice 1: Nothing is free. Someone pays for every pleasure. Which is to say, before there is anything there is money. This is true, particularly, of pleasure.
Voice 2: What?
Voice 1: Pleasure cannot be ‘given’ and ‘received’, only arbitrated. Arbitrage is ‘price’. There is a cost to every transaction. To satisfy the desire of another, he must pay a price, lose something.
Voice 2: Look... Is this the right place? I came for—
Voice 1: Desire produces a commodity, an ‘image’ not of its object as being but of an aspect of this being.
Voice 2: Uh-hmm. Got it. It’s still a good time?
Voice 1: Yes.
Listen, here’s half now, you can collect the other when we’re through.
Yes, there’s fine.
- From the script of Hardy Hill’s My Submission, 2021
My Submission stems partly from Hill's longstanding fascination with artist Pierre Klossowski (1905-2001). This self-proclaimed ‘monomaniac’, whom Hill greatly admires, considered the artist to be a fetishist, and the production of art a pathological and obsessive act. According to Klossowski, the making of art consists of nothing more or less than an endless and futile attempt to represent a deep-seated phantasm in the material world.
While entering the screening room we hear a peculiar and disconnected dialogue. Voice one echoes through the empty space, while ‘voice two’ is projected onto the wall in text — just as subtitles to a movie never made. The script for this work came about after Hill came across a collection of bizarre videotapes made around the turn of the 21st century by an amateur hypnotist in rural Michigan. Over many years, this man invited young boys to his home to hypnotize, dress and document them. Although his extensive collection of videos does not contain any hint of explicitly pornographic or even erotic content, it bursts with sexual necessity. With his obsessive and lustful urge to represent, Klossowski would probably describe the man as a true artist. My Submission starts with a scene in which a jockish adolescent (voice two) enters the room where a woman (voice one) is waiting upon prior agreement. As the narrative unfolds —and derails — we find out that voice one has hired voice two to be hypnotized by her. However, things do not go as planned.
Hypnosis is a common psychosexual fetish, which can be considered to have a tragic side. It allows one to get “into” the Other’s body and psyche. But at the same time, ironically, the identity of this Other is destroyed by this very act, and replaced by one’s own desire. In this sense, the Michigan hypnotist’s oeuvre and voice one’s disastrous attempt at Hill’s jock character demonstrate an inability to empathize with the Other without trying to possess them. In both cases, the body of the hypnotized is a vehicle, a blank slate on which to project one’s own Klossowskian phantasms. In My Submission, the vehicle, voice two, regains agency by resisting the act of hypnotization, as his mind wanders off in a compassionate attempt at understanding voice one’s motives for hiring him. However, this contemplation only causes him to be confronted with his own conflicting thoughts on the relation between Self and Other. To what extent can we truly know the Other, the object of desire? Voice one and voice two have rather dystopian answers. They seem to equal ‘knowing’ with ‘possessing’. And to possess, one must transact.
Voice 2: I’m not asleep
I’m faking it.
Not just faking it for the money.
I’m also doing it ‘cause she seems like a pretty nice person.
Maybe kind of tangled up
But not a mystery.
Rooms of Now is a project series in which an (inter)national artist is invited to create an artistic intervention in people's homes, in Middelburg. The title is borrowed from a photography project from the artist Maurice van Es, who realised the first edition of Rooms of Now. The series took place from 2019–2022.
Rooms of Now is the follow up of the public program So You Don't Get Lost in the Neighborhood.
In 2015 Vleeshal kicked of its Nomadic Program, as an extension of its existing exhibition program in Middelburg. In its Nomadic Program Vleeshal goes on tour, organising exhibitions and other events in collaboration with venues in the Netherlands and abroad, such as Art Rotterdam, Amsterdam Art Weekend, the Spring Performance Festival, WIELS Art Book Fair, Brussels and Poppositions, Brussels.