Ars Electronica 2007
Festival-Website 2007
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Festival 1979-2007



'Justine Cooper Justine Cooper

Everyone should be able to live life to its fullest. I used to believe I did. I felt confident in myself, and my relationships. I exercised regularly. I slept quietly through every night, and awoke each morning feeling refreshed and ready to start a new day. I now know I had a treatable disorder …

Consumer advertising for prescription medications was legalized in 1997. Since that time, more and more prescription drugs that can be lifestyle enhancing rather than life-saving are being developed and sold. In response to the marketing and advertising tactics of the pharmaceutical industry, Cooper has created a fictional marketing campaign to launch her magic-bullet lifestyle pharmaceutical HAVIDOL™, which treats Dysphoric Social Attention Consumption Deficit Anxiety Disorder.

HAVIDOL™ is a frightening approximation of the real thing. Parody gives way to possibility as Cooper recreates the entire drug marketing process—from the invention of a new disorder (wherein a need is first found and then the disorder is penned) to the branding process of naming the drug, its pill and logo design, promotional merchandise, and finally its website, TV and print advertisements.

HAVIDOL™ taps into our collective desire and expectation that there is always room for improvement, while walking the line between poking fun at ourselves and wondering how to obtain a prescription. The marketing message leaves us with the sense that we are never good enough, nor have enough. Are we a society of hypochondriacs, or are we biologically built and genetically urged to out-compete our peers and former selves? The project comments on our temperamental relationship to western medicine, built upon the idea of a malfunctioning body or mind, and the yearning to believe everyday life can be remedied.

HAVIDOL™ is an artful parody of a new kind of gold rush, heralding an era in which pharmaceutical companies mine psycho-chemicals for a public that is ready to swallow almost anything in the pursuit of the new American Dream: a life without pain, only gain.

Kindly supported by: New York State Council for the Arts, Greenwall Foundation, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; by the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian State and Territory Governments;Novamedia,Australia and Daneyal Mahmood Gallery, New York.

TV ads—Animator: Kuni Chang; Editor: Faisal Azam; Sound: John Plenge; Just What I Needed vocals and re-record: Tammy Brennan; Camera: Nicoykatiushka; Actors: Claire Byrne, Romain Fruge; Models: Zuzana Reidlova, Luca Faletti; Voiceover: Gary Kahn, Candice Holdorf; Hair + Makeup: Martina Schula, Mariana Garayo.