Dries Verhoeven
Happiness

23. september–2. oktober 2021

Absolutely fascinating… humans become mechanical and the mechanical becomes human.

Visit a drug-selling human robot in a small shop in the Sofienberg park!

In this art installation, theater maker and visual artist Dries Verhoeven explores the world of artificial happiness – a feeling that is increasingly available to us in the form of drugs, painkillers and antidepressants. A small concrete building is 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.

If the doctor gives it to you, it’s fine. But if it comes from the dealer it's rubbish – that's what we think, but there’s more to it than that.

In his work, Verhoeven highlights aspects of the common social reality in which we live. With gestures that 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.

Dries Verhoeven is a theater maker and visual artist. He creates installations, performances and happenings in museums, theatres, on location and in the public spaces of cities. Verhoeven visited Black Box teater during Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival in 2018 with Fare Thee Well!, where he mounted binoculars on the top floor of Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel.