Ibiza Occident

DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

The idea of making this film arose from my interest in worlds of which we all have a preconceived, clichéd idea. For many, Ibiza represents nothing but a place of perdition, frivolity and drugs, doubting that there may be something with values beyond money and hedonistic pleasure in a place given over to offering recreation. Few stop to think that this small Mediterranean island is for example the world capital of electronic music and one of the most musically creative centres in Europe.
From the times of the most archaic cultures, the need has been felt to create places of leisure and celebration, usually in idyllic surroundings to enhance the sensation of escape and euphoria. Throughout its history, Ibiza has been a refuge for those who sought there a spiritual space and regeneration, even enrichment. It was however also a place of astute traders and audacious pirates. And this intense mix of nature, the spiritual, eroticism, celebration, art and business is what makes Ibiza so exceptional.

At this time of “political correctness”, youthful celebration is once again under suspicion, its perception reduced to its most extreme expressions. Modern officialdom likes to explain movements like techno and major electronic music events in terms of the quantity of drugs consumed there. Clearly, many popes of intellectualism do not consider the work of the DJs or the creations of those producing the music to be art. How, indeed, can something consumed in a discotheque be art? However, the electronic world has never taken much notice of those who judge them, because their proximity to a very broad, mostly young public means they do not need to seek the approval of the intellectual elites. It has moved millions of people since the nineties and Ibiza has become one of their most emblematic centres. The number of artists working there each year, the absolutely cosmopolitan public and the presence of the world’s most important clubs have made it the “Hollywood of electronic music”. A place which makes stars but which can also devour them.

The electronic world discovered Ibiza at the end of the eighties and remained there because the island provided a place where celebration was the focus of life, allowing the space and freedom necessary for it to develop. Celebration was never negative and suspect in Ibiza but an intrinsic part of its very idiosyncrasy.
However, everything man touches, even in the remotest paradise, he finally converts into business and in Ibiza too the world of the clubs has become a large, money-making machine. Thus, in the words of one of the protagonists, “…Ibiza is a reflection of what is happening in the world”. 

The wish to be free, to seek haven, to celebrate, does not evade the need to live, to survive. The first arrivals in a paradise benefit and then create the conditions to stay, selling those who follow what they need to have a good time. That attracts more people who, in turn, foment the desire of others. The spiral caused by this chain means that a phenomenon becomes overcrowded. If, in spite of everything, Ibiza has not yet become a place of mass tourism and is more a mix of clubbers and the Jet Set, that is because of the paradox that precisely its fame as the capital of partying and hedonism has protected it.

Nor is Ibiza a perfect idyll or a place where all are happy. The same things happen in Ibiza as anywhere else in the world, because humans are the way they are. A space to “play” as another protagonist says, nonetheless gives it a different vibration, explained neither by the presence of drugs nor by the sophistication of the parties. That may be explained by its history, by the tolerance of its inhabitants and because there is a need in today’s society to find in celebration what does not exist in daily life, a sensation of euphoria and ecstasy making it possible to put up with the brutality of a world which does not want to learn from its mistakes.

Another character in the film talks about how “young people need more and more to enjoy themselves and the clubs can hardly sustain that rhythm”. Current society is unable to convince coming generations that its economic and social model can bring wellbeing and security. Young people feel that they are ensnared in a life of great stress and competitiveness. To cope with such pressure, many seek to escape at weekends and vacations, into an experience where enjoyment demands no more than a wish to have fun. And as time is short, life expensive and work precarious, all must happen at once. Thus anyone who helps to break the chains of tedious daily life is particularly appreciated, here the DJs, musicians, artists or the people running the clubs. Those holding the key to happiness are idolised to a degree. The distinction between the electronic world and others may well be the exceptional mix of primitive tribal rhythms and the cutting-edge technology of the twenty-first century, the symbiosis between Afro-American sensibility and European classicism and its ability to integrate universal elements and sounds. 

In any event, collective celebration, with electronic music or some other, is as necessary today as ever, and becomes an event of cultural manifestation when accompanied by the individual creativity of artists who enable the collective to submerge in an extraordinary experience, essentially delivering us back to our tribal origins. To overcome hunger, the enemy or obscurity, fear in short, and ultimately to feel secure as part of a community which advances as a whole, was always the main reason underlying the religious or pagan rites which flourished with the wellbeing of societies and civilisations. The West (Occident) is, in general terms, a society very sure of itself, happy to enjoy and celebrate its fortune. The advent of a culture such as electronic music, seeking to reunite with its primitive origins, admitting African rhythmic elements or some oriental spirituality, shows that the newer generations have begun to doubt the West’s cultural supremacy, sensing that happiness is not attained through exploitation. But that also applies to the very business of pleasure, often bordering on the abyss, and where the lust for money and power can undermine the pleasure of enjoyment.

I do not individualise the public in the film but rather treat it as a group seeking a state of pleasure. The sequences with the protagonists however take me on to the other side of the curtain, the side of the artists, the musicians, the promoters, the club managers and those working in tourism, in short the players who enable the machinery to operate, those who give the public what the public wants, filling the hollows in a society obsessed with attaining happiness as quickly as possible.

Each story presents part of the whole, whether of the island or of our world. It never claims to be able to tell all, but is rather a voyage with stops, almost a collection of short tales. The island is the protagonist, music however its inspiration, because in Ibiza music is the cardinal point where all lines meet.

If as Proust said, “music is a little time in its pure state”, Ibiza might be a little bit of the pure state of Occident.

Günter Schwaiger

 

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