Ana-Marija Paček (HR) Oxygen as the object of pleasure

installation, 2008

As of recently, oxygen has been included as ingredient in various cosmetic products, added to refreshment and rejuvenation drinks, as well as used in bars and beauty parlors for the purpose of customers’ relaxation. In the overall situation of ecological crisis and the increased pollution of the atmosphere, oxygen, similarly to clean water, is becoming a matter of prestige. Futuristically designed oxygen bars, which have been become a trend since the nineties (first in Los Angeles, the epitome of body and facial care) attract those in search of relaxation, offering their customers oxygen enriched by many flavors.

It is little known, however, that if oxygen reaches the brain in large doses and in a purified state, it causes effects similar to the effects of certain drugs, stimulating (and at the same time damaging) the brain cells and the heart. When pure oxygen is inhaled, it causes the accelerated release of carbon dioxide from the body. The reduction in carbon dioxide causes contraction of blood vessels which, paradoxically, prevents the oxygen to reach the heart and brain. When this happens, the control of blood pressure is obstructed, together with the ability to register pain, as well as physical and emotional stress. All this burdens and overloads the hypothalamus, responsible for controlling the pulse and keeping the hormonal and chemical balance in the body.

There is also the other side of the story. The theories of oxygen bars state that oxygen is a cure for AIDS and cancer, also helping to relieve pain caused by arthritis, reduce stress and boost energy. It also supposedly helps in dealing with symptoms of hangover, such as headache; reduces sinus problems and relaxes the body. Such claims are not supported by scientific evidence. However, we could say that the astronauts who participated at the Gemini and Apollo missions are proof that pure oxygen is not harmful, as they managed to live two weeks by breathing in 100-percent oxygen, without side effects. The bar I created in the framework of the art festival that raises issues related to hedonism is a soothing environment with plants (natural producers of oxygen), enabling the visitors to enjoy inhaling pure oxygen, in a medically safe environment. The level of inhalation is limited and regulated by special bottle regulators. This lounge station, in the framework of the exhibition, strives to refresh and relax the visitors exhausted by art. Possible hallucinatory effects are also welcome.

Ana-Marija Paček (HR)

Ana-Marija Paček (Koprivnica, 1985.) received her BA at the Academy of Fine Art in Zagreb, where she is currently an MA student at the pedagogical painting department, in the class of prof. Damir Sokić. She mostly works in the medium of painting, but also engages in other media. She participated at the Urban Festival, in the framewrok of the project "Academy as Laboratory", as well as many group exhibitions involving students of the Academy. She participated at the workshop Socially Engaged Art, led by Andreja Kulunčić. She is member of the art collective trip2art, with whom she realized two collaborative projects.