I promise to change the world but only if 10 other people will do the same

Year: 2010
Technique: series of 5 drawings, ink on paper 21 x 29, 7 cm – enlarged on digital print, 127 x 180 cm

I was invited to participate in the exhibition The Dump Project – Recycling of Thoughts, curated by Agnieszka Kulazińska. The idea of the project is that invited artists respond to the ideas posted on the blog The-Dump.net by French artist Maurice Benayoun. Following his post To Change the World from 18 June 2008, in which he suggests to make a catalogue of all the things in our environment that can be changed by our activity, I started to think about the level of moral responsibility of the contemporary (Western) individual.

The fact that art can no longer change the world and neither can an individual is now commonly accepted. Nevertheless there are various initiatives spreading on the Internet inviting people to become socially active. I can’t deny that some of the online initiatives have indeed had a strong impact on reality. For example protests following the 2009 Iranian presidential election even got the nickname “Twitter Revolution” because of the protesters’ reliance on Twitter and other social-networking Internet sites to communicate with each other. Nevertheless in my opinion most of these online initiatives remain only on the “click if agree” level where people get a feeling that they are socially active if they join Such and Such Group on Facebook. Their actual activity stops right there. An interesting case of possibly affecting the real world through online participation is the case of the Facebook group MY SISTER SAID IF I GET ONE MILLION FANS SHE WILL NAME HER BABY MEGATRON which collected the desired number of fans in only 13 days. The baby hasn’t been born yet, so the name he will be given by his mother will be a much awaited decision by the online community.

While researching various online activities oriented towards the theme of changing the world I found the Pledge Bank website. They explain it as “a site to help people get things done, especially things that require several people. We think that the world needs such a service: lots of good things don’t happen because there aren’t enough organized people to do them.” However noble this aim may sound it turns out to be a bit problematic when promoting the logic of “I will … if you will” action. With this kind of pledge a person not only gets rid of the burden and the effort of making a decision and the action by oneself, but also puts into the question the actual possibility of making the action. Another fact is that the pledges can turn out ridiculous in a similar way as the above mentioned group on Facebook.

And with online activities there is always the question of the truth. In most cases there is no proof that things were happened, and even if proof in the form of an image or a video is offered, it can always be digitally manipulated. In the case of the Pledegbank a change of status indicates that a pledge has been fulfilled and in the case of baby Megatron I guess we will never know for sure, if the group is for real or just a prank.

The drawings use selected successful pledges from the website and are presented as propositions to the viewer.

The Dump Project – Recycling of Thoughts, Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdańsk, exhibition view, 2010

Where do we go from here?, Secession, Vienna, exhibition view, 2010

Stik/h, Fürst House, Ptuj, exhibition view, 2014

Vesna Bukovec, I promise to change the world but only if 10 other people will do the same, exhibition view

Exhibition opening

Slovensko | English

Vesna Bukovec is a contemporary visual artist based in Slovenia.

She is a member of the art group KOLEKTIVA