The Hashish Club (2009)

Joachim Koester

16mm black and white film loop, 6’06”

The Hashish Club comprises of 16 mm film of an abstract animation of hashish pads, a photograph of a lush 19th c interior and dim lit Moroccan lamps. It is based on ‘Le Club des Hachichin’, a Parisian group of the late 1840s, centred around a fascination with drug-induced experiences. Its members comprised key figures of the French intelligentsia, amongst them writers and artists such as Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier and Eugène Delacroix. They convened in the lavish interior of Hôtel de Lauzun, and were served the ‘green paste’, imported from the Middle East, in oriental porcelain dishes.

Hashish was supplied to the club by Dr Jacques-Joseph Moreau, a psychologist, who compared the effects of the drug to the symptoms of mental illness. Himself not a user of the substance, Moreau observed the club’s ‘volunteers’ with the interest of a detached scientist. Not all of the members were users of the drug either but they all were intrigued by claims on expanding creativity and curious affects on people’s mental state and some wrote on the atmosphere of decadent extravaganza nurtured in the club.