Hypnotheraphy: The Last Cigarette Before the End of the World

Medium: Performance with voice and crystal singing bowl
Duration: 13 minutes
Year: 2019
 

In this hypnotherapy session, participants are guided to imagine smoking the last cigarette before the end of the world. At first glance, the hypnotherapy session aims to ease the anxiety while facing apocalypse, which is a typical strategy of mindfulness and wellbeing industry while facing crisis: to adjust individual’s mental state to adapt to the outside world, instead of changing the social-political system.

The act of “hacking” the mindfulness practice with the act of smoking a cigarette opens up the possibility of rebellion against the logic of “western zen” (a term coined by Žižek).

Smoking, here, is more than a metaphor of the toxicity of relaxation. It is also a linkage between the past (cigarette’s function and position in colonial practice), present (the physical pleasure of smoking) and future (smoke as a symbol of disappearance/death). With hypnotheraphy’s promise of reaching the “trance stage”, where subconsciousness is supposed to be reached and altered, a new meaning has been given to this “trance” -- it is a place for active contemplation on the hidden economy of things (be it smoking habit, or mindfulness practice, or artwork as a meditative object) rather than an innocent ground of passive message absorption.