Depressive Hedonia by Natalia Sliwowska
Many of the teenage students I encountered seemed to be in a state of what I would call depressive hedonia. Depression is usually characterized as a state of anhedonia, but the condition I’m referring to is constituted not by an inability to get pleasure so much as it is by an inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure. There is a sense that ‘something is missing’ – but no appreciation that this mysterious, missing enjoyment can only be accessed beyond the pleasure principle.
– Fisher, Mark. Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative?
Something that deeply bothers me is that feeling of unfulfillment, a sort of desaturation of satisfaction penetrating parties and social gatherings. I mean the student society, the society that can spend and consume and spare their time on very frequent gatherings. I am myself a hedonist, I don’t want to come across as someone blaming students for it.
The reason I created the series presented here, is my own exploration of the feeling I had each time the parties would all merge in my head into one long memory of repeated and not exciting moments. And such a paradox I am explaining right here. Paradox, because me and my friends would obviously think that we do the most amazing and exciting things. Who wouldn’t like to smoking weed, take drugs, dance in the middle of the streets and feel reckless?
The first moment depressive hedonia really appeared to me was after reflecting on my sincere photo documentation of several sex themed parties held by my friends. Browsing through my negatives and scans, II realized that what has been portrayed was sadness and some sort of neuroticism, rather than excitement and festivity. I was reading Capitalist Realism over that time and that was the moment when my analog photo series on that topic began. From that moment on, I continued documenting moments, as well as stage photographs reflecting on Fisher’s inability to do anything else except pursue pleasure.
Natalia Sliwowska is the founder and co-curator of alternative cinema kino suka; currently based in the Netherlands.