“I will always be too expensive to buy.” “I will always say what I mean.” “I will always do what I say I am going to do.” These are the three phrases I repeat to myself, like a mantra. Which of these phrases can I commit to? Can I ambitiously commit to all three? To none? How long can I keep these commitments? Would it truly be for myself, for the good of humanity, or simply to participate in this project? Who will hold me accountable? Am I willing to sign for it?
These seemingly endless string of questions reflects my state of mind as I sit within Adrian Pipers’ exhibition The Probable Trust Registry The Rules of the Game #1-3. The required self-reflection leaves me conflicted, unsure. Sure, I can take this exercise lightly, but I’m drawn into self-contemplation. Do my actions match my self-perceptions? Am I trustworthy, or do I require more training? (If trustworthiness is trainable.) I have so many questions. What seem to be fairly straightforward statements leave me questioning my character, and my ability to commit.
The time frame is one hundred years, so for the remainder of my life- just the remainder. In one hundred years the three individual social contracts are supposed to be displayed once more. In what capacity, I am not sure. The end result is actually fairly ambiguous, and I won’t be around to witness the outcome. This lack of context only adds to my unrest. Will my participation really have impact? Will it help build communal trust and overall humanitarian character growth? Perhaps it is the challenge that keeps me entertained, or perhaps it is a sense of responsibility to a greater cause. Perhaps it is just to be remembered in some capacity.
I strive to be a better person. I think, I can thoughtfully approach these tactics and hold myself personally and socially accountable. It wouldn’t hurt to ensure that I continuously think more before I act, but is that realistic? I’m only human after all. My fellow participants have also agreed to sign one, two or all three of these contracts. They have their own reasons, but we have become linked to the same cause. In the end, maybe, we hold each other accountable.
“I will always be too expensive to buy.” This is reasonable. I won’t sell myself short and more literally -I will not sell my body. “I will always say what I mean.” I like to consider myself a grounded, trustworthy person. “I will always do what I say I am going to do.” Within reason, I always aim to. After the internal battle and the realization that I am feeling smaller and smaller in the large space with each passing second I decide that a decision must be made. I sign my name twice. In the end, I decide to take on # 1 and 2.
It is both the idea and the physicality of a contract that encourages me to post this particular review this week. Contracts are equally emotionally and physically binding. Contracts align certain actions, thought processes, and goals -hopefully in a forward direction. In my case, a particular contract is the mark of change- a great shift of rhythm and routine- in my life.
Those in Berlin can check this exhibition out! Click on “Hamburger Bahnhof,” below, or “Where do you see yourself in 100 years?” for more details. Also click if you’d like more background on the exhibition!
Adrian Piper: ‘The Probable Trust Registry’
Exhibition: Feb. 24 — Sep. 03 2017
Invalidenstraße 50—51, 10557 Berlin, click here for map
Photo credit is from Frieze.com: https://frieze.com/article/adrian-piper-1