The Right to Be Unhappy

On the politics of control of human behaviour and psychotropification of society

Participants: Montserrat Rodriguez (Intervalos), Virginia García del Pino, Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, Valentina Desideri, Florencia Portocarrero, Warren Neidich, Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson, Dora García, Mathilde Villeneuve, Alexandra Baudelot, Josep Rafanell i Orra, Carles Guerra, Veronica Valentini, Juan Canela and OVNI Observatori de Video No Identificat, Barcelona

Curated by BAR project and Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers
In collaboration with Institut Français and Fundació Antoni Tàpies
The film program is made thanks to OVNI Observatori de Video No Identificat, Barcelona

May Friday 6th and saturday 7th, 2016
Institut Français* and Fundació Antoni Tàpies**, Barcelona

In his controversial book The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing, William Davies[1] shows us how happiness has transformed itself from a wellbeing state to a new form of making money for contemporary capitalism. The exponential increase in the use of antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of all kinds of ailments (depression, anxiety, etc.) highlights the unprecedented radical shift in the psychiatric prescription praxis. From children all the way to the elderly, the way in which we daily consume antipsychotic drugs to treat any type of disorder, from the cognitive to the affective, has been naturalized. Some data shows that, for instance, in few years, the number of children treated for attention deficit disorder has quadrupled, and schools are filled with students that “need” to be medicated. Their numbers have gone up to 3.5 million from the 600,000 in 1990; while the prescription of drugs for different types of depression, or therapies that prevent certain moods that are not socially accepted, like sadness, melancholy, enervation, rage, boredom, anger, hysteria or worry, have increased.

The growing dependency on drugs makes clear that the rise of mental health problems, like depression, cannot be figured only on strict medical terms, it needs to be understood in its own socio-political context. In addition, new technologies such as Google, Facebook and Twitter sell information related to our emotions, which can be later used by marketing companies to modify our consumption patterns, and conduct an almost immediate follow up of our emotional state. About the pharmacopornographic regime in which, for each maneuvering of the Government, there follows a technique on subject construction, Paul B. Preciado, author of the essay Testo Junkie, writes that “The Pill [like Prozac, Viagra, Triazepan or Ritalin] is a miniaturized pharmacopornographic laboratory distributed within the domestic environment and destined to be placed inside the body of each consumer […] In the pharmacopornographic era, the body swallows power. It is a form of control that is both democratic and private, edible, drinkable, inhalable, and easy to administer, whose spread throughout the social body has never been so rapid or so undetectable”.[2] In fact, happiness is a consumer product as any other, and our emotions are the new religion of the twenty-first century.

In addition to all other realms and contexts engaged in controlling that behavior – education, the law, urban space, architecture, or established patterns of good behavior –, this psychotropic trend acts as a powerful social control program sheltered by science. Although, obviously, medication stabilizes emotions and behavior, it removes from patients something as human as self-reflection, recognition, mourning, the capacity to independently regulate emotions and the freedom to overcome them, or not. We should then ask ourselves, what can we do to continue enjoying our rights to be different, eccentric, to refuse to work, to not be productive, to be sad, obsessed, to refuse to be focused, to not produce excellent results, to not make money, to refuse to contribute to society, to talk nonsense, to hear voices, have visions, nightmares… to not be happy?

Therefore, how can we conceive the construction and reconstruction of possible models of human consciousness that go against this phenomenon? Can we imagine behavioral emancipatory dynamics that will challenge control structures? How can we generate spaces of common affective infection through group activity? How can we foster dialogue between art, psychoanalysis and social science? How can we free the standardized image of thought imposed by the logico-political apparatus? Can collective conversational, reconstructive or testing activities become a resistance practice?

Through a two-day program that includes films, performances, installations, activities and conversations targeting artists and other experts in dialogue with the general public, El derecho a ser infeliz [The Right to Be Unhappy] wants to challenge some of these questions, proposing a space for shared reflection, enunciation and testing.

[1] Davies, Will: The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Wellbeing. London: Verso, 2015.
[2] Preciado, Beatriz: Testo Junkie: Sex, Drugs, and Biopolitics in the Pharmacopornographic Era. New York: Feminist Press, City University of New York, 2013, p. 205-207



Friday 6 May, 7-9pm, Institut Français 

Theatre IFB

7-7,30pm Presentation and introduction The Right to Be Unhappy with Mathilde Villeneuve, Alexandra Baudelot, Dora García (Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers), Carles Guerra (director Antoni Tàpies Foundation), Veronica Valentini and Juan Canela (BAR project)

7,30-8,05pm Films:

Five Year Diary, Reel 23: A Breakdown and After the Mental Hospital, 1982, US, Super 8 on digital video, colour, 26’, by Anne Charlotte Robertson, english with spanish subtitles. A monumental self-portrait, a huge corpus lasted 36 hours, divided into 85 coils of 26 minutes, Five Year Diary is the most important work of the director. It spanning two decades. In this chronicle of his daily life in Massachusetts, Robertson bluntly documents their struggle to survive against depression. Dark and intense inner monologues, stained here and there of humor and the self-critical awareness that the artist had of her illness, gives full depth to this therapeutic experience in film.

Pare de Sufrir, 2002, España-México, 7’, by Virginia García del Pino, spanish. In words of the director: “Pare de Sufrir” (cease suffering) is the name of a church very near to the house where I lived in Guadalajara (Mexico). This video is about madness, faith, consumer culture, advertising, design, identity… The images are photographs that I took during long walks through the city, and they focus on Mexican advertising and graphic design, which shows a great sense of humor. I’m fascinated by the functionality of the graphic design there, which doesn’t focus so much on creating an image or on competition – something which I greatly appreciated, specially after living in a city like Barcelona. The audio is based on interviews with psychiatric patients in Central America, which I found in a publications and asked 5 girls that I met in the city to read out. For me there is no difference between text and image, both of them surround us every day, and I don’t think an image is worth more than a thousand words. I don’t consider it my task to create, but to recreate myself within the things I experience, to make them my own. Every image and every text has its place in the story of each video, and the fact that the images do not correspond to the audio, and that they are mixed with written text, creates free associations and adds new subjective meanings to the stories

The film program is made thanks to OVNI Observatori de Video No Identificat, Barcelona

8,15-9pm Conversation between artist Dora García and Pare de Sufrir director Virginia García del Pino followed by an open dialogue

9-9,45pm Refreshments


Saturday 7 May, 10am-7pm, Fundació Antoni Tàpies


9,45am Welcome by Carles Guerra

10-11,30am Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson, UIQ (the unmaking-of), surround sound installation, invisible film, 78’. ‘UIQ (the unmaking-of)’ is a spatialized electro-acoustic soundwork, or invisible film, that filmmaker-artists Graeme Thomson and Silvia Maglioni have created around Félix Guattari’s unmade science-fiction screenplay, ‘Un Amour d’UIQ’ (‘A Love of UIQ’). Working with the paradoxical condition of the unmade as something both already and not yet present, a potential field of shifting forms and forces, the filmmakers have sought to ‘produce’ Guattari’s film through a collective experience of envisioning, without filming a single scene. Wondering how to give shape to the film and to the bodiless entity of its central character, UIQ (the Infra-Quark Universe) – that according to Guattari has no clear sense of identity nor spatial or temporal limits – Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson decided to embark on a journey, holding a number of ‘seeances’ in different countries. They invited participants to become the receivers, hosts and transmitters of UIQ, contaminating each other with their visions and ideas of Guattari’s film and of UIQ’s possible manifestations, both within and beyond the limits of the screenplay. The soundwork recombines recorded fragments of these “seeances” in a composition of 75 voices, woven together with electronic signals and processed field-recordings, elements that circulate in the space, offering glimpses of a missing film and universe that, though invisible, can begin to affect the listener’s vision.

11,30-11,45am Break

Arts combinatories

11,45-12pm Introduction by Veronica Valentini, Juan Canela and Carles Guerra

12-1,30pm Dora García in conversation with Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz, Montserrat Rodriguez (Intervalos) and Florencia Portocarrero: On the representation of the human psyche, exhibition and revelation, and the relation between art and psychoanalysis

1,30-2,30pm Lunch break

3-4,45pm Introduction by Veronica Valentini and Juan Canela of interventions and performances by Warren Neidich, Florencia Portocarrero and Valentina Desideri

Warren Neidich, Numb your Ass and your Brain and your Heart, After Charles Bukowski, 45’, 2015-2016. A spoken word performance that is enacted in the space of the working memory or the mind’s eye. Using transversal methods it incorporates poetry, noise and dadaist methods to emancipate the image of thought which has been normalized by the apparati of rational politics.

Florencia Portocarrero, Public Display of Affection, 2016. Building bridges between psychoanalytical theory and the consciousness raising groups of the second wave feminism, Florencia has been researching about the role of affects in both, oppression and political transformation. During her residency at BAR project, this investigation will have two public outcomes: a series of events -organized with artist Valentina Desideri- exploring the political dimension of socially inappropriate feelings and “Public Display of Affection”, a publication that will bring together texts and visual interventions by artists, curators and researchers whose practices are concerned with the relationships between affect, knowledge, power and emancipation.

instruction card from Fake Therapy’s deck
Valentina Desideri, Studio Practice, 2016. Studio Practice refers to both the practice of studying (modes of learning that produce other ways of living together, and vice versa) and the practice of being in the studio (referring here to the dance studio) where multiple proposals, spoken or simply enacted, follow one another and travel through bodies and dimensions (physical, intellectual, emotional, spiritual). During her residency at BAR, Valentina is meeting people with whom to practice study in various formations, they have been exploring inappropriate feelings as well as nightlife, forms of care, healing, reading and other forms of knowing.

4,45-5pm Break

5-6,30pm Conversation with Josep Rafanell i Orra, Dora García, Mathilde Villeneuve and Alexandra Baudelot

6,30-7pm Closing debate



Virginia García del Pino is director of non-fiction and documentary filmmaker and director of projects of the Master of Creative Documentary at the UAB. In 2009 she present My sister and I, a film that participated in Punto de Vista, FID Marseille and Rencontres Internationales, among other prominent festivals and was shown at the Anthology Film Archives in New York in the “Spanish Non Fiction” program. Symmetrical, arrives in 2010, one of its most vexing work is following its course by national and international festivals, and is part of the exhibition “Fables Issues”. In 2012 presents his first feature, The jury, with great success of critics and audiences.

Valentina Desideri is an artist currently based in Amsterdam. She concocts her own conditions of living, knowing and making so that sometimes works come out if. She trained in contemporary dance at the Laban Centre in London, she did a MA in Fine Arts at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam, she does Fake Therapy and Political Therapy, she co-organises Performing Arts Forum in France, she speculates with Prof. Stefano Harney, she engages in Poetical Readings with Prof. Denise Ferreira da Silva, she is a reader and she writes.

Florencia Portocarrero is a researcher, writer and independent curator. She obtained her BA in clinical psychology at the Catholic University of Peru, where she also received her MA in Psychoanalytical Theory. During the 2012/2013 Portocarrero participated in de Appel Curatorial Programme in Amsterdam and in 2015 she completed a MA in Contemporary Art Theory at Goldsmiths University in London, where she graduated with honors. Portocarrero regularly collaborates with the international contemporary art magazine Artishock and has contributed with her writings on art and culture in numerous catalogues and publications. Portocarrero works as a public program curator at Proyecto AMIL and is co-founder of Bisagra, an independent art space in Lima.

Warren Neidich is a post-conceptual artist, writer and founding director of the Saas Fee Summer Institute of Art. Conceptual Art today is not about immaterial objects but immaterial labor operating in the knowledge economy but also engaging the process of the brain. His work combines photography, video, painting, Internet downloads, and scotch tape and noise installations operating in social spaces and preempting future realities.

Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson are filmmakers and artists based in Paris. Their practice interrogates potential forms and fictions emerging from the ruins of the moving image and includes short and feature films, sound and video installations, performances, eventworks, radio shows and books. Their production (and resistance to production) focuses on exploring new configurations of image, sound, text and politics, often using cinema in expanded or exploded form to reactivate lost or forgotten archives and histories and to create new modes of collective vision and engagement with contemporary thought. Their work is regularly presented at international film festivals, in museums, galleries and art spaces. They are currently artists in residence at Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers with a new project, common infra/ctions, forging connections between infra-forms and ideas of “use” that include the creation of a Dark Matter Cinema Tarot and a Centre for Language Unlearning.

Mathilde Villeneuve is co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers since 2013. Graduated in Modern Literature at the Sorbonne, Paris as well as in Humanities and Cultural Studies at the London Consortium. She lives and works in Paris. From 2006 to 2012 she coordinated the external projects of the Art School of Cergy (ENSAPC) and ran the exhibition space La Vitrine in Paris. Also as an independent curator and art critic, she has organized several exhibitions and writes for different magazines and artists’ catalogues. She is particularly interested in cinema and performance, in documentary approaches, the relation of artistic production to its environment and in the mechanics of writing history. In collaboration with Virginie Bobin she has edited in november 2015 the book “Re-publication” (Archive Books ed.), centered on artistic practices using process of re-publication to make forgotten or withheld information available (with Mathieu Abonnenc, Sally Price, Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz, Rémy Héritier, Julien Prévieux, Marie Voignier, Lene Berg, Franck Leibovici…)

Alexandra Baudelot is co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers since 2013, she works for several years as an exhibition curator, editor and author. In 2009 she created and managed the contemporary art platform Rosascape, an independent art centre based in Paris. At Rosascape she curated exhibitions with Katinka Bock, Ulla von Brandenburg, Raymond Gervais, Benoît Maire, Vittorio Santoro, Berger&Berger, Adrian Dan and produced artist books and editorial artistic projects. She is interested in production strategies, the artistic research process and reflections on the role of artwork and ways of sharing it with the public – through formats such as exhibits, performances, conferences, and publications – for all disciplines. In 2016 she will curate a serie of three exhibitions with Ulla von Brandenburg at The Power Plant (Toronto), The Darling Foundry (Montreal) and ACCA (Melbourne).

Dora García is artist, teacher and co-director of Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers since 2013. Her work has been shown in major contemporary art institutions, including the MACBA in Barcelona (2003), the SMAK in Gent (2006), the GfZK in Leipzig (2007), the Kunsthalle in Bern (2010), the Spanish Pavilion of the Venice Biennale (2011). She has also taken part in several biennales, for instance in Istanbul (2003), Sydney (2008), Lyon (2009), São Paulo (2010), DOCUMENTA 13 (2012), and Venice Biennale (2013 and 2015). Dora García reflects on the parameters and conventions governing the presentation of art, on the question of time (real and fictional) and on the boundaries between representation and reality. Through her work, the artist presents reality as multiple and questionable and explores the relationship between the artist, the work, and the public. She often draws on participation and performance.

Intervalos – Montserrat Rodríguez Garzo is a psychoanalyst.  Member of Apertura, a society for the study, research and transmission of psychoanalysis. She has also a degree in Geography and History (U.B., 1982) and Diploma in Archives and documentation (B. N., Madrid, 1984). Since 1998 she studies the applications of psychoanalysis in the psychosocial field. From 2002 to 2011 he coordinated the research team for a clinical application of psychoanalysis to the study of the mechanics of the creation of language in artistic facts, schizophrenia and other psychoses, working with people diagnosed with severe mental disorders (MACBA – Forum Mental Health of Barcelona). Conducts seminars, courses and lectures on psychoanalytic theory, art and aesthetics. Intervalos is a theoretical and clinical institute which draws upon contemporary artistic and psychoanalytical discourses and social science in order to explore the margins of mental health. Founder member are Montserrat Rodríguez Garzo (psychoanalyst) Javier Codesal (visual artist and poet) Blanca del Río (art historian) y Lorena F. Vega (psychoanalyst, psychologist).

Barbara Rodriguez Muñoz is a curator based in London. She is currently Curator of Temporary Exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection, where she is developing ‘This is a Voice’, a major exhibition on the complex psychological and physiological origins of voice production, and ‘Bedlam: the asylum and beyond’, exploring the rise and fall of the mental asylum and the post-asylum current environment. With an emphasis on interdisciplinary and performative practices, she has curated projects in the UK and internationally including ‘Bonnie Camplin: The Military Industrial Complex’, South London Gallery, co-curated with Anna Gritz, which earned the artist a nomination to the Turner Prize 2016; ‘Latifa Laâbissi, Écran Somnambule’, Freud Museum, London; ‘Inanimate Beings’, Casa Encendida, Madrid; ‘Nervous systems’, Kunsthal, Aarhus; and ‘The Cipher and the Frame’, Cubitt, London, co-curated with Fatima Hellberg. As a writer, she has contributed to Afterall, Concreta, Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers and various independent publications. She holds a master’s degree in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London.

Josep Rafanell i Orra is a psychologist and psychotherapist. He has been working in healthcare institutes and social work centres for over twenty years. His research stands at the crossroads between a pragmatic redefinition of a situated politics and an opposition to the workings of state management and economic inclusion. He is the author of En finir avec le capitalisme thérapeutique. Soin, politique et communauté, and has published articles in the following journals: Futur Antérieur, Alice, Chimères, Ecorev. He co-founded a political inquiry collective focused on the construction and transmission of narratives relating to practices of collective autonomy. He is one of the facilitators of the Paris Hearing Voices network (REV) and, with others, he has established a self-support group for voice hearers and their supporters, family and carers. He has been running a workshop in Brussels over the past year, investigating care and social work practices with Juliette Béguin et Cédric Tolley.

Carles Guerra (Amposta, 1965) is director of Fundació Antoni Tàpies. He was Director of the Virreina Centre de la Imatge, Barcelona, from 2009 to 2011, and Chief Curator at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) from 2011 to 2013. He has a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona and he is professor of Social Structures and Cultural Trends at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra. His work and research investigate the dialogical aspects of artistic practice and the cultural policies of Post-Fordism. Among the exhibitions he has curated are Art & Language Uncompleted.The Philippe Méaille Collection (2014), Nitrate. Xavier Ribas (2014),1979. A Monument to Radical Moments (2011), Antiphotojournalism (2010), This is not an Exhibition (2008), Zone B: On the Margins of Europe (2007), and he is the author of the video-essay N for Negri (2000), as well as numerous texts, essays and publications.

Veronica Valentini is curator and co-director of BAR project based in Barcelona. She is also founder director of EMMA, a non profit organisation developing an itinerant program of study meetings, residencies and public presentations, and guest lecturer in curatorial practices at Fine Arts School of Brest (FR). In 2014 she has been curator for the 2nd CAFAM Biennal “The Invisible Hand. Curating as Gesture” at CAFA museum in Beijing. Actually she’s working on Jacuzzi Rest Area a practice-based research project devoted to explore politics of body through everyday practices of personal care from hygiene and self health to therapy and pleasure.

Juan Canela Juan Canela is an independent curator and writer. He is co-founder of BAR project and Azotea and curator of  la  Opening at ARCO Madrid. Recently he has curated projects as I Speak, Knowing It Is Not About Speaking, Caixaforum, Barcelona (2015);  Lesson 0, curated by Azotea (sept 2013-sept 2015), Espai13 Fundació Miró, Barcelona;  ¿Por qué no lo llamas entropía?,  0 Edition of dContemporary Culture Meeting, Guadalajara México (2015); Ignacio Uriarte: 1&0s at Marco, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Vigo (2014); He has been selected to asist at SYNAPSE Workshop 2015 en Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlín and has been one of the guest speakers of Surrounding Education, De Appel Art Center, Amsterdam (2015). Nowadays he is working on Cale, cale, cale! Caale!!!, a project questioning the place of magic, ritual and the irrational in relation to nature for Tabakalera San Sebastián (2017). He usually writes for art magazines such as A*Desk, Dardo magazine, Terremoto o SOUTH Magazine.


* (Carrer de Moià, 8, 08006 Barcelona)
** (Carrer d’Aragó, 255, 08007 Barcelona)