For artists, their work is more than just expressing their feelings. It can serve a greater purpose and represent a bigger ideology. It’s refreshing to see how the NFT community has widely celebrated the appreciation for art. Visual artist Lola Toscano sits with Catherine Kontos to talk about her artworks and blockchain NFT projects. Her first art exhibition became an art movement called Hedoné, which centered on the liberation and pleasure of psychomagic. She is currently working on opening their first Hedonia, a retreat center and community space built around a historical hacienda in Izamal. Listen in and learn more as Lola shares how her first art exhibition has grown into what it stands for today.
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Building A Hedonism Village With Blockchain
Lola Toscano is a visual artist with a degree in Tourism Management. Her first art exhibition became an art movement called Hedoné, an NGO to liberate and share pleasure based on psychomagic. They use their profits to fight female genital mutilation. She is working in the opening of the first Hedonia, a retreat center and community space built around a historical hacienda in Izamal, Mérida. With an internal economy based on blockchain, parcels are sold as NFTs. Welcome, Lola, to the show.
Thank you for inviting me here. I’m very happy to share.
Thank you. You have such an interesting project happening. That is exciting, especially the fact that it is based on the blockchain and NFTs. First, tell me a little bit about you and how you’ve got to where you are now.
The movement started because I grew up in a tiny village in the South of Spain where most people are educated in a strong Catholic education and belief. The freedom for women to experience pleasure is very limited. They use a lot of words like slot, which for me, for me is normal lesson and is not hurting anyone. That is the shorter story.
The motto of starting this first art exhibition that became what it has become now the movement, the feeling or message is showing that there is nothing wrong with experiencing pleasure, being free in our bodies, and also being respectful and educated about it. When I say psychomagic, maybe not everyone understands the meaning of this. It is invented by Jodorowsky. It means the technique when you use art to break blockages or treat psychological problems.
In this case, what Hedonia is using are specific colours, smells, outfits, and decorations. Everything becomes a surreal environment that is very naive but sensual at the same time. Everything is touching the sense in a way that is soft and evokes more of a romantic approach to sexuality. This is the psychomagic that we practice.
Can you talk about psychomagic?
There is a book about it.
There is nothing wrong with experiencing pleasure, being free in our bodies, and being respectful and educated about it.
Can you explain what that is for people that do not know what that entails exactly?
Jodorowsky proposed this. He made a movie and has a book about it. I want to explain it shortly. One example of psychomagic is when you go to a shaman because you have a problem. The setup that witch or person has can have the smell and images. Even when we go to church, this is also psychomagic. It is this temple-looking place.
Automatically, your mind becomes more connected to believing in wherever the treatment is coming. The theater that the person is doing for you at the end, is you healing yourself because you believe that this is true but all these elements that are artistic are there as part of this psychomagic art. In the end, it is you healing yourself because it is working on your perception and in your brain. It’s making the change in your own mind.
Everything that you spoke about it is enhancing, in your case, the pleasure sensory, emotions, and feelings for your intended goal.
Especially, in this part that is the judgment that we have in our subconscious is this education that there is something wrong in our narrative, so then when everything looks so positive, sweet, naive, and beautiful, then automatically, their subconscious without saying anything is telling them, “That is going to be bad. That looks so good and sweet. It is going to be a bad thing.” That is the point and why the aesthetic that we use is innocent and colourful.
You are opening a retreat center called Hedonia. It has a beautiful setting already from the description of where it is located, and it is based on blockchain. Explain to me the economy behind this because this is interesting.
There are a lot of community projects that are adopting blockchain. In the first instance, we are not planning to create our own coin. If something like that can happen in the future, why not? At the moment, we are discussing which coin will be appropriate for us. We are thinking about one that is stable because crypto can be fluctuating. It can be messy because when you are using these on a day-by-day basis to exchange for things with the other businesses we will have inside is a bit confusing if it goes up and down every day but there is a crypto that is called stablecoins that is more recommendable for that.
For me, it is the future. I believe in a decentralized economy. The first step that we can take to educate people for this future that is already here is to start using it. We are an international community. The idea of crypto is you can make transactions internationally without cost, and it is fast. Since we are all from around the world, it is super convenient for everyone that we exchange our own money for crypto. We will use this one for everything that is going to happen in there.
The other part is this NFT concept. I think most people already know what it is but for those who are not so familiar with it, it is something that was invented for art in the beginning, but now, we want to apply this also to tangible things. For this project, we are going to be pioneers at using this because an NFT is like a copyright. It will give you the support or the back of the blockchain. You will feel secure that you bought something that is enrooted somewhere so you can prove the property of something.
Legally, it is giving you this back or support that is creating this NFT, and then we have a contract attached that this NFT is giving you the right to use this specific piece of land. For the people that are happy with this contract or transaction between us, the lot where they make their houses is a bit less costly. They have another option.
They can do a traditional way with a private property type of thing, so then instead of blockchain, you have the back of the government of the country but this is just the classical. This has more cost but is also doable, so the person can choose. I’m happy with this. I trust the organization and I also trust the blockchain. I know this is safe enough or they can go for the next step, which is dealing with more investment. That is also possible.
I have heard with the retreats and the wellness, a lot of people are starting to go this way, so it is interesting to see that you are basing your whole retreat center on this type of economy. It is very good. Tell me, is Hedonia going to be opening up soon?
We are in the state of still negotiating with the owner. I sent out the presentation and the video to our community that they will now finance the holy space, and the answer is really good. I have 88 people interested at the moment. For the first step to secure this place, we need help in making the down payment soon, and then we do not need an investor for that because I have been in a conversation with investors already. I prefer not to do it in that way because I prefer the place to belong to the community. We are big and strong enough already to make it by ourselves, so that is a matter of work.
Describe to me what a day would look like for somebody who comes to the retreat center. What is your mission? What do you want them to feel, experience, and leave with?
It is a safe space. That is the first point. It is a place where everyone has to feel free and where you connect with people that are like-minded. That is why I am in this process of filtering the people and then seeing if they have the values because what I am collecting is a bunch of angelic people that are very conscious of taking action to make this world a better place in different ways. I am trying to select the people that have something to bring to the whole happening even if they are not a part of the crew specifically but are attendees that also have at least intentions to support projects that are going to be beneficial for the world.
Let me ask you. Are they becoming more like members rather than just coming for a weekend or a week? Is this what I’m getting?
Life should be more about sustainability.
It’s both. For people that are building their house and are going to be leaving there, they have to be approved. I only announce it to people that have already been to Hedoné before, so they are already filtered.
This is going to be a whole community. It is not just a center. You are going to be building houses and it is going to be a community based on hedonism, right?
Yes, because the land is 32 hectares. The area for the retreat center is the Hacienda. It is 6 hectares. We are going to set up some glamping there. Even our houses on the moment we are not there, there will be an internal calendar that is like an Airbnb kind of thing but only for our retreat guests, and then for retreats, everybody that has a retreat project can apply. They will be like, “I have this retreat. I like this place.” We say, “What is your intention? What are you doing with your retreat?” We then filter. It is open to anyone that has a good retreat project.
Basically, people could live there, and you are assessing these people to make sure they would fit the mission and the values of Hedonia. These people are permanent, so you’ve really got to make good choices there. Secondly, you are going to build a retreat center where it is not only for you guys to do retreats but for other people or facilitators to come there and have their retreats. You do not filter their guests. I assume anybody could come for a week but you are assessing the facilitator.
I’m filtering the concepts that I assume if a person is attending this retreat, it is because he is already aligned with a specific concept that is conscious or they are in the path of doing the good things. We will filter only the concept. We believe the attendees will be nice and welcoming. Also, for the organizer, we can also offer a gate, not necessarily but we have these healers and musicians inside.
We have all these elements inside already that you can also have, so you do not have to fly your whole crew to create your retreat in case. It is an option but it can be very convenient for some organizers. They are like, “There is the place. There will be some facilitators that are doing the activities.” It is easier for them.
Will you also be providing food, other facilitators, activities or whatever it is to add on?
Were privacy and security the reason and influence for you to use blockchain because some people want to keep it private? You are public but I am assuming that some or most do want to keep this lifestyle private, correct?
Yes. You can still keep it private if you have money. I don’t think this is going to be in the news. It is not exactly the main motivation for the blockchain but also many people create wealth from crypto, and if you invest directly from the crypto and you made it without converting it into fiat, then you are also out of the tax cost.
That is true. I did not think about that. What is your vision on a day of the retreat center if you were to be conducting a retreat for yourself as a host? I’m assuming you will be having retreats yourself, correct?
I have a big team because we have been running these retreats ourselves or Hedoné events around the world. I have a very good team in Germany. I want many of them to move here when all is settled and also other people that are professional that are aligned with the whole thing. We have our way of creating and managing spaces. Also, the whole management and decisions are not only mine. It is also from the whole team as a democracy that we will take decisions. It is far from a cult or being managed by only one person. It is not a queendom. It is democratic. It is a beautiful team of people that are superconscious.
The retreat that you offer now that you are saying you have gone internationally to different places, do you have a name for it or does it change every time?
Hedonia is a nonprofit organization that started in 2015, and then the first official event was in Germany in 2017. Since then, we have done thirteen retreats and events around the world. In LA, three times. In Tulum, four times. In Paris, two times, and then in Germany, we had done five events. That is why our network consists of 4,400 people all over the world.
That is amazing. That is good for you. Congratulations on that. Since 2015, you have developed 4,400 followers or members. For a lot of people, that is a dream, and now, you are creating a whole community based on that success.
I felt like now is the time. I feel we are strong enough to jump into the next step, which is having our own space, because honestly, personally dealing with owners of places has been tough.
It’s very important to respect the community around you.
I can imagine because I’m sure not everybody maybe has that open-mindedness to allow hedonism to happen there. They have an idea of what it could be like. They get nervous or it does not go along with their values and they do not want it.
It happened that they said yes to a place. For example, there was enough in Tulum, and they said, “This is a perfect place,” but then he went in the website, checked it out, and said, “I’m sorry. I have to cancel the service. I cannot do this in here,” and I was like, “We are super ethical.” I always feel like they are very close-minded.
Do you display your values on your websites?
Yes. It is beautifully described. We are ethical hedonists. It is about teaching people how to bring more pleasure into their lives and how to pleasure others in a very conscious way. We also educate about sustainability. Especially now, in Hedonia, it is a very strong part of the concept because, for hedonists, happiness comes from pleasure, so it is a physical pleasure, not only sexual. We also have a God, and that is nature. We don’t really have a God in this philosophy. We are atheists. We are very spiritual but with a God that is not in any religion that exists. It is very open for anyone to have their own interpretation of how it is, and it would be nature-based.
Taking care of nature for us is another big deal. It is about how to have a life that is ethical. That’s why we are going to offer many courses and retreats about via construction, and all our development is based on via construction. They are all different techniques of how to build houses in a conscious way with materials that are sustainable and respectful.
It is good to know because it is not a trend. Being sustainable is the way life should be. We partnered up with another company that does exactly that. Maybe I could connect you both to create sustainability within the venue, the retreat or an event. We are offering courses on how to do that when you are offering a retreat, so I’m happy to hear that you are going that route as well. It’s very important and also respects the community around you in a lot of these retreat places because sometimes, the guests or the retreat leaders do not realize the impact that they are having by offering a retreat in a community that is different from theirs.
I wish you a lot of luck. It sounds like an exciting project. You glow when you speak about it. I could tell from even the number of members that you have that it is a huge success already before it has even started. If someone wants to go into your world of hedonism but is nervous and wants to be a new member, how do they come to you? How do you make them feel comfortable? What is it that you have put in place to give them that comfort and that will to feel free? It is about freedom.
The success of everything that happened here was the magical appearance of all these creatures that felt attracted by the concept. I put the concept out, and then these people started coming and said, “I want to help with these.” They are unbelievable. We have this department of hedoangels, for example, that are very engaged. You will feel overwhelmed by the experience.
You want to share your moment. They are there for you to listen, help, and make you feel comfortable. People that are in the path of liberating themselves and are attracted by this concept, plus the team that is like black belts into this angelic museum we have, when you put all these people together, maybe you will feel nervous before you arrive but when you arrive, you will feel like, “This is Heaven.” Everyone makes you feel nice because they are all in the same mentality. It is very relaxing.
Where can people find you if they want to know more?
We have two now. First, I recommend visiting Hedone.world. That is the one for the movement, and then we have a YouTube channel with many videos of our events. They can get a taste of what kind of community we are. We just launched the Hedonia.world. I recommend people that like what they see to sign up in both because it is going to be a different communication from now.
Hedonia is for Hedonia related information and Hedone is more for the events that happened and will happen still around the world. When you want to go to an event, you will always have to apply, and then one person will review your answers and see your intentions. You will then get a link to purchase a ticket and you will be there.
Thank you so much for taking the time to come here on the show to tell us and inform us of everything that you are doing, which sounds amazing. I appreciate it. It was so informative to find out about your project and this community you have built. I wish you so much luck with your exciting new project, a new chapter or a new book in your life.
We are very close. I would like everyone from here to find out more. They can even book a private call through Hedonia.world if they want to know more about this development.
When you do launch, let me know. I will help put out the news as well on our social media platforms.
- YouTube – Hedoné Berlin
About Lola Toscano
Visual artist with a degree in tourism management. Worked for 8 years in hospitality until l started my career as an artist. My first art exhibition become an art movement called hedoné, an NGO to liberate and share pleasure based on psychomagic, we use our profit to fight FGM.
Currently working on the opening of our first Hedonia, a retreat center and community space built around a historical hacienda in Izamal (Mérida), with an internal economy based on blockchain, parcels are sold as NFTs.