Stairway to Heaven
Once upon a time glamorous smoking has become a dirty silly habit of the unenlightened that increasingly offends the sensitivity of the vulnerable non-smoker striving for health. On behalf of the vulnerable individual and against the unenlightened irrational smoker, the state has decided to place disturbing health warnings on cigarette packages and prohibit smoking in a range of public places.
Photo: Museum of Cultural History, UiO / Toril Cecilie Skaaraas Hofseth
Difficult questions arise from this: In what ways are we convinced by, for instance, the state to perceive people either as vulnerable individuals or unenlightened creatures? Is the state to treat citizens as children and prescribe them the 'right life', impose bans and issue warnings? Is such a state able to respect its citizens as free adults? Is the Norwegian 'smoking law' a prohibition law, as some would argue, or a freedom law, as others would claim? What rhetoric is used when we are forced to choose between freedom from smoke and freedom to smoke and what are its political and social implications? 'Stairway to Heaven' raises some of these crucial questions by setting against each other the opposing views of Robert Pfaller, a Viennese professor of philosophy and Asbjørn Kjønstad, Oslo's father of the smoking law and law professor. The installation also features an art video of a discussion between Robert Pfaller and a muse about smoking produced by the students at the University of Linz and a backside wall of trigger words.
From Stairway to Heaven you enter The Arena of Freedom.