Reflections on Euphoria: Lina Iris Viktor - ELEPHANT

We ask artists about their experiences with euphoria, finding out what it looks, feels, sounds and tastes like, and how they evoke it in their work. The first in a series of six.

Portrait of the Lina Iris Viktor in her studio. Courtesy of the artist

Lina Iris Viktor is a Liberian-British conceptual artist, painter, and performance artist working between London and New York. 

I’ve never actually sat down and thought about what euphoria means, until now. My first reaction would be that it is some level of intense feeling. I don’t think it even has to have positive connotations. You can have too much of a good thing. Euphoria can be associated with joy and excitement, but it can also become darker. Just look at the HBO show, it’s all about drug use and thrill seeking, things going awry. When I meditate, I’m not sure if I would call the feeling “euphoria” in the traditional sense, but it is definitely related to an out-of-body experience.

“Whatever euphoria is, it’s intense, it’s supreme, and it’s above the normal state of being”

Breathing is so underrated. It is something people are finally taking notice of because of the pandemic, whereas I’ve had asthma my whole life, so the breath is paramount. Creativity is just like breathing in and out. You need time to produce and time to rest, to absorb the things around you. We all need to balance that duality.

  • Lina Iris Viktor, Fourth, 2017-18, Courtesy of the Artist and Mariane Ibrahim
  • Lina Iris Viktor, Ninth, 2018, Courtesy of the Artist and Mariane Ibrahim
  • Lina Iris Viktor, Fourth, 2017-18. Courtesy of the artist and Mariane Ibrahim
  • Lina Iris Viktor, Ninth, 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

Two years ago, I travelled to Joshua Tree with some friends. We stayed in a beautiful house in the desert, and the sky was so clear that you could see the entire Milky Way. It was a very witchy night. We cooked, gathered around the fire pit and then got in the hot tub to do Wim Hof exercises. He’s a famed Dutch teacher who heals himself with breath, using it to override the body’s functions, often in extreme situations. The first time I did the exercises I felt like nothing could touch me. It was amazing, like being in a drug-induced state. At that moment in the tub I felt like, if I just sunk down into the water and this was the end, that would be okay. It is definitely the closest I’ve felt to euphoria in recent times.

“Our modes of expression are formed with two-dimensional tools, when we’re speaking about five, six or even seven-dimensional experiences”

I use a particular type of ultramarine blue in my work, which has its own frequency. It has roots in South America, India and North Africa, and has been used for eons. It transports you and calms you, it is very magical. Yves Klein called it the abyss. He likens it to the sea and the sky because it is dimensionless. Unfortunately, all of our modes of expression are mostly formed with two-dimensional tools, when we’re trying to speak about five, six or even seven-dimensional experiences.

Lina Iris Viktor, Yaa Asantewaa, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Mariane Ibrahim

When I was in Mexico a few years back I did an hallucinogen known as “toad”. It is much more potent than ayahuasca but it’s a much shorter trip. It propels you into timelessness, nothingness, and invokes the death of the ego. I’m not even sure I could call it euphoria because it was so frightening, but maybe that is exactly what it was. Everything is cyclical, with every emotion encroaching on each other. Whatever euphoria is, it’s intense, it’s supreme, and it’s above the normal state of being.

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