When we were kids, we just tried stuff. You tried to walk along the picket fence and you might have fallen off, but maybe you didn’t.
Maybe you tried to catch a ball and missed. But you tried it again and you got it. Or if you were like me, you never quite got it and ended up with snapped fingers and a stinging face.
How many times have you said, “That’s not my kind of thing” or “I couldn’t do that”.
We limit ourselves not because we can’t do stuff, but because what others might think of us if we do try. Take another look at the clip from Inception:
Everything about our lives captured in a heartbeat.
I realise I’m not doing stuff because I think I am not supposed to do it. I have this dumb idea that there’s an approach to life that is the right way. The correct way.
Just this week I caught myself thinking that it’s not right for an artist to approach a gallery – that an artist has to be discovered. It’s actually nonsense. It could be a long wait.
As a teenager, I wrapped my desk in newspaper and string, an homage to Christo before I knew who he was. I created shadow sculptures by cutting out shapes and shining light through them to create new objects on the wall.
I sewed skirts and scrunchies for my girlfriend and made my own outfit for the school dance based on the video clip of Kate Bush Running Up that Hill.
Time to WOOP.
As I got older I thought there were protocols. Specific ways to do things. I didn’t want to not do what I thought I was supposed to do. It’s all so dumb now I think about it.
Listening to the Hidden Brain last year, they spoke about whether positive fantasies actually help us achieve our goals. It turns out they do but with specific structures. That’s why researcher Gabriele Oettingen created WOOP to show how we can make our goals more attainable.
WOOP is a science-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits. The app guides you through the four steps of WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan).
It’s been a year since I downloaded the app, and only this week I decided to use it. You know what? I realised, the only thing that was stopping me doing stuff was myself. Sure I can’t force galleries to show my work. I can’t force collectors to buy my work. What I can do is lay the frame work to make it happen. I just wasn’t dreaming big enough. Then I read about Adam Pendleton’s new show at MoMA and I thought ‘That’s the way to do it, fucking overwhelm the museum!’
It’s time to ‘Overwhelm the Museum’.
What Pendleton is showing us is that it is up to us to chart the way forward. If we want to build 30 metre scaffolds in the atrium of MoMA, nothing should stop us.
If we want to slide naked in paint down a 100 foot canvas on Main Street, let’s do it.
If we want to create a vast paper chandelier in the centre of an regional art museum, let’s do it.
Shut down that voice in your head that’s saying, ‘That’s not how you’re supposed to do it.’
Let’s just get on with it as boldly as we can.