Image of ground floor project space at Queensrollahouse

What is wrong with our desire for health and a flawless, beautiful body? The concept of the death drive, as introduced by Freud in ‘Beyond The Pleasure Principle’ in 1920, partially answers the question if we consider it in the context of the neoliberal world order. As an innate, destructive instinct, death drive works to restore the living organism into its primordial, inorganic state. According to Freud this distinctive instinct of destruction is tangential with the forces of libido. In his seminal work built around this concept, Byung-Chul Han observed that late capitalism, in its essence, distracts from any kind of negativity, such as pain or ugliness, in favour of the positivity of wish fulfilment. At the same time, the imminent fear of death is what spurs the individual within the system, allowing for its accelerated proliferation. What is, therefore, at stake is a mental collapse initiated by this displacement and corresponding relentless self-exploitation. Todestrieb pays homage to Freud's formulation of this idea through an examination of the practices of Jack Kennedy, Deividas Vytautas + Gloria Viktoria, Harry Hugo-Little, David Shamie and Weznhe Li, which touch upon desire, destruction, mental issues, violence and labour. Each artist unpacks the notion of 'death drive' in their individual way while reflecting on the broader spectrum of contingent issues this speculative idea generates. The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of performances coinciding with the first and last day of the show.