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June 3, 2019

Hedonism feels good

MOD museum’s latest exhibition questions whether we can have pleasure forever.

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  • Words: Letti K-Ewing
  • Pictures: Kate Bowman

Hedonism is MOD museum’s third exhibition and it launched on Friday, 24 May in true hedonistic style.

A few steps through the rotating glass door and we’re stopped in our tracks by a chocolate fondue fountain laden with sweets. Most opening nights have free drinks, but free molten chocolate? This is one lavish exhibition.


May – Novemebr 2019
North Terrace (adjacent Morphett Street Bridge), Adelaide 5000

Tue-Thu: 12pm ’til 6pm
Friday: 12pm ’til 8pm
Sat-Sun: 10am ’til 4pm

Join MOD over four Fridays as comedy/cabaret/professional bad-ass Boo Dwyer hosts a series of free Café Sci series, delving deeper into everything from our microbiome to the philosophy of living a pleasurable life.”

Delving deeper into the six compartments of the Hedonism exhibition however, it becomes apparent this work isn’t just about exploring mindless self-indulgence and excessive melted chocolate consumption. Rather, we’re encouraged to consider the notion of pursuing pleasure without inflicting harm.

In MOD’s street gallery, artist Ani Liu’s Biophilic Fantasies explores whether the harmonious feeling of being in nature can be biochemically imitated with soundscapes, light therapy and plastic foliage. Upstairs we’re encouraged to throw our whole bodies into an interactive, movement-based game that veils the exertion of exercise with gratifying gamified level-ups.

There’s even an installation about consent and communication. Harking back to the museum’s previous peace-loving gaming arcade, F.A.B.L.E. allows its audience to participate in an interactive role-playing game with an alien where patience and listening invite tactile rewards.

Society’s obsession with instant gratification is also considered within the LED realm of the Pleasure Arcade 5000. It’s all reward and no work in the ‘pleasure booths’ that dish out compliments from strangers at literally the touch of a button. It’s an attractive indulgence for the ego but once the novelty wears away we’re left wondering whether simulated pleasure could ever replicate the real thing.

This equivocal intersection of technology, society, and happiness is precisely the point we’re made to ponder.

People participate daily in both conscious and unconscious acts to maximise our pleasure and satisfaction, but Hedonism the exhibition is less concerned with the selfishness and debauchery that has become synonymous with the word. MOD’s immersive and accessible installations instead consider hedonism’s earlier philosophical roots and ask us to consider happiness forged from building healthy relationships and nourishing self-preservation in a technological landscape.

Hedonism – MOD

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