Oblivia’s Pleasure: A Philosophical Journey through Naivety and Artistry

“Pleasure,” a captivating performance by Oblivia that intricately weaves together philosophy and naivety, stands out as one of the group’s most sophisticated productions. The show premiered at Teatteri Viirus on December 8th, marking Finland’s debut of Pleasure. Conceptualized and devised by Oblivia and a collaborative group, the stellar cast includes Timo Fredriksson, Annika Tudeer, and Juha Valkeapää.

The intimate setting of Viirus becomes a stage for three individuals, each grappling with complex thoughts, expressed in a whimsical and fragmented manner. Against the backdrop of glittering curtains, lights, and a small band, the performers embark on a song in slightly broken English, pondering the yellow interior of the Earth.

In a format reminiscent of a loose concert, Pleasure exudes naivety while exploring minimalistic songs that delve into profound themes. The performance cleverly addresses Lacan’s concepts of emptiness and pleasure from psychoanalysis, offering a punk interpretation, as well as exploring the boundary between hedonism and healthy self-care. Central to the narrative is the notion of enjoyment as a radical act that empowers.

The stage is a tapestry of expressions and gestures, skillfully woven by Annika Tudeer’s fierce articulation of arguments, Timo Fredriksson’s contemplative demeanor, and the phenomenally naive presence of Juha Valkeapää, who embodies a living question mark. Tua Helve’s accessories contribute a touch of sadly endearing humanity to the performance.

Pleasure seamlessly blends elements of a concert and musical theater, deliberately incorporating out-of-tune singing, accompanied only by backing singer Gabriele Lesch. The stumbling and fumbling style, perhaps the only fitting choice for an exploration of pleasure, playfully nods to figures like David Bowie, Nick Cave, and others who have embraced the joy of rebellious excitement.

Oblivia, founded in 2000, has consistently infused a sense of pleasure into their performances. Their latest trilogy, “Emotions and Politics,” culminates in the section aptly named Pleasure. The trilogy, initiated with “Repress, Repress, Repress” and followed by “Obsessions,” explores self-criticism and the fickleness of pleasure and desire.

Despite the challenges posed by the small space, Pleasure emerges as Oblivia’s most intricate and demanding work. The profound meanings embedded in each song require a careful unraveling, adding complexity to an already nuanced performance.

Eetu Viren, an expert in German philosophy, suggests that Pleasure serves as a means to resist oppressive systems by focusing on the joyous aspects of life. The performance, however, also carries a touch of nostalgia for a time when pleasure was perceived as more innocent, contrasting the current landscape where pleasure sometimes comes at the expense of others’ suffering.

Despite occasional disorientation and the playfulness being cut by intensity, Oblivia’s Pleasure leaves audiences with a sense that grappling with the considerations of pleasure is a rewarding endeavor. The group’s persistent exploration of philosophical undercurrents has earned them recognition in Central Europe, with Esther Boldt naming Oblivia as the group of the year in the Tanz Year Book in 2011.

Oblivia’s journey, spanning years and continents, involves a profound engagement with philosophical underpinnings. From their breakthrough work, “Entertainment Island,” to their latest endeavor, Pleasure, Oblivia continues to captivate audiences, requiring sustained contemplation to truly appreciate the depths of their artistic expression. The ensemble invites audiences on a thought-provoking exploration that transcends the boundaries of conventional performing arts.

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