The performance Concerning the Difference Between the Delights of Pleasure and True Happiness was Judd’s contribution to a group exhibition Fourteen Interventions at Swedenborg House, London, 25th February to 5th March 2010, which was curated by Stephen McNeilly of the Swedenborg Society in Bloomsbury, London; an organisation dedicated to the writing of the 18th century scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. Judd’s contribution and subsequent video was supported by Arts Council England funding. McNeilly invited artists to explore the diverse but interrelated notions of belief, spirit and archive.
Judd’s work continued his exploration of extending the ritualistic activities of groups and individuals into an action realised by actors and how, in turn, this action can be interpreted in a moving image work. It used performers embedded in the audience in a séance-like arrangement, reciting text from the Swedenborg’s prose in an increasingly ecstatic cycle of spoken and sung phrases. Swedenborg, a scientist who became a mystic, embodied the conflation of the empirical with the unknown or invisible. His (often outlandish) descriptions of his encounters with the spirit world are mediated through his earlier incarnation as a scientist. Otherworldly experiences, for example of a spirit existing in his foot, are therefore brought back down to the here and now, and are in turn physically relayed by the performers. Victorian magic lantern projections acted as ‘scientific’ metaphors for his encounters with the spirit world. The piece further explored the notion of the individual in relation to the group, and the ambiguity of whether the group offers freedom or conformity.