- Nov 2016
Spiritual Fitness is a physical enhancement program created by artist Jakub Jansa. The intentions of this program are never explained nor it’s ultimate objective found. Perhaps the most interesting and intriguing aspect of this work of art is that the viewer is left to question the motives of the project, which situates itself between a self- help curriculum and social identity program that evokes an alienating yet communal experience akin †o a religious mindset. Although this program is a reflection and perhaps a critique of the rise and evolution of many of the physical enhancement communities that are prevalent today, the program is also a reflection of other aspects that are shaping global politics. Examples of contradicting rules of governance and control by contradiction are themes explored. From a historical point of view these questions are not new but they point towards an evolving and uncertain landscape of world politics today.
The world of Spiritual Fitness is a three part video series that unlocks the potential of the participant. As the viewer is introduced to the world of Spiritual Fitness a contradiction emerges that is inherit within the system. This duality is present in every action and every action can have two meanings. The opening lines of the first video titled Two Minutes starts with the lines “We smile when we feel happy but also when we are forced to smile it makes us feel happy so it goes both ways. When it comes to power it also goes both ways”.
From the opening lines the participant is asked to sacrifice the self in order to benefit from the rewards of the collective. Thus the act of smiling is meant as a social marker to connect oneself to the collective mind in physical form if not in mental form. This communal participation is reinforced in the second video installment titled One Touch where emphasis is given to scientific and mental powers of touch. As the narrator informs the viewer the very act of touch creates stronger bonds between those who adhere to the Spiritual Fitness ethos. But as soon as the viewer is introduced to the strong communal nucleus of the system in the second video the contradiction within the system emerges once more in the third and last installment titled Three Floors. Where as in the first video we are introduced to the multiplicity of an action like a smile and in the second the bond
of a touch in the third video we are introduced to the alienating aspect of the program. As the video beings the
narrator instructs the viewer towards an ambiguous action with no clear intention. This cryptic order, which separates those that understand the message and those that do not ultimately allow a person to attain further knowledge within the system. Although what must be done to unlock this action is never informed, the viewer is asked to practice in an empty elevator. The narrator explains that this is the best place to practice but it is upto the person to decide how much time is spent here. The danger and balance of this training can be both beneficial and detrimental. In the end the narrator warns “But think carefully, more practice makes your business”.
from essay by Alexander Campaz