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Well, it’s midnight and we seem to have reached an elegant outcome without recourse to the crude, mechanical device of a ballot. All those who have expressed a view seem to think that I should be removed from the museum collection, repatriated, and rendered into the safe keeping of Barley Rose. If anyone has a different idea please come forward. As I have said, you will need to be supported by at least two others.

Otherwise, perhaps we can move on to consider the disposal of the rest of the objects.
Although I will be leaving the Tower, there is no need for tearful goodbyes. By the magic of cyberspace I will still be here! This debate should continue until the final face-to-face meeting which is scheduled for 3rd September. I will also be continuing to post my thoughts until then, as a hermit out in the wild.

One decision has been arrived at quite easily. So please let us now focus in more detail on the 40 remaining objects. If you feel strongly about an object you will have to attract the support of at least two other people. And if you agree with someone else’s claim please say so. As Gunter Grass said, ‘The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.’

I imagine we will be able to arrive quite easily at a consensus on each object. It is in the absence of an explicit consensus that the Earth is raped, pillaged and slaughtered.
Many of the objects are simply markers for much larger collective thinking that needs to happen. For example, should the museum keep a beehive? Or make more space for sparrows in its grounds? And more importantly, how will you personally follow that thinking through into action?
Many of the objects might reveal themselves through comparison. How exactly is that first skull I showed different from this last one on which my face is arranged? Do we feel the same way about a tooth as a skull? What’s the difference? And why is it so different if it belonged to a human or another animal? Will we one day look back on our treatment of earwig families in the same way as we now look back on our treatment of Aboriginal Tasmanian families? This is an invitation to examine opinions that we may imagine to be beyond question, or which we’ve never bothered to examine.

This is also an invitation to think collaboratively and transparently. If a mutual agreement on any object is not forthcoming and opinion is sufficiently polarized, then there will be a vote, and the matter will be finally discussed in person on 3rd September.

Of course, if no one speaks up or is willing to care for an object then it will disappear or turn into something else. This was happening before I turned up and it will go on afterwards.
Please bear in mind that my purpose from the beginning has been to reveal and explain our personal implication in the value of some of the things kept here.
All memory must be exercised. If we do not remember what we know then we may as well not know it. We then act in ignorance.

If a museum is a collective memory it must be exercised collectively. Every collection has to be occasionally recollected.
I hope that by my provocation I have reminded us of some common knowledge, and perhaps even stirred up some uncommon knowledge.
This effort will be wasted, however, unless it leads to action. Only in making an active choice is something really valued, made sacred. I have dedicated my whole self.
What will you sacrifice?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. 05/08/2009 12:47 pm

    i think I misunderstood the midnight thing and was planning to bid for your freedom today Ansuman with the invitation (rather than the obligation) to participate in a recitation by artists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. We’d love you to join us, after so long alone, if you can. Let me know.

    On 19 September, artist Monica Ross will lead a collective by artists, reciting the Declaration from memory.
    Artists will have chosen one or more articles of the declaration significant to them and committed the words to memory in a preferred language. The recitation becomes a metaphor for the struggle for memory and consciousness of human rights.

  2. 05/08/2009 5:49 pm

    Hello Naomi,

    No you didn’t misunderstand at all. Voting would have been going on right now but in fact there was only one clear offer which was supported by anyone else. Indeed it was supported by everyone who voiced an opinion. The comment section of that post even turned into a little virtual marriage ceremony with witnesses and flowers and everything! Aaaah!

    A rational consensus is so much more satisfying than a battle of numbers. I’m hoping that a consensus will now emerge in relation to each of the remaining 40 objects.

    Thank you very much for your invitation. I would be honoured to participate in the recitation. For some time, and especially during the course of this project, I have been interested in the notion of a gift economy. I wonder what a society would look like which was based on giving what you have, rather than taking what you want? I wonder how our relationships would look, how economics would look, and the science of evolution, and politics?

    In connection with this I’ve been thinking a lot about the relationship between rights and obligations. Perhaps they are two sides of a coin. And at different times in history and in different cultures perhaps we have tended to fixate on one or the other. I do feel we need to think a little more carefully about our duties at this time, and wider than the merely human.

    Nevertheless I welcome, as a foil to my thinking, the opportunity you are offering. I’ll try to memorize some rights.

    • 06/08/2009 4:41 pm

      Hello Ansuman

      That’s great that you can join us for the Anniversary recitation. I think your 40 days of solitude was a wonderful project – can’t quite imagine where your at from the position of my fried brain…

      I really look forward to seeing you at Beaconsfield on 19 September, just after 2pm for a 2.30 start and then for refreshments afterwards. Do feel free to invite other artists to participate but ask them to contact me ( or Jason on

      very best

      • m.e. montenegro permalink
        06/08/2009 4:55 pm


        Thank you for compelling me to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

        Brilliant. I continue to learn a great deal from this blog.

  3. Mervyn permalink
    05/08/2009 11:25 pm

    I was going to come in with a last minute bid.

    But I think Barley would make better use of you.

  4. 06/08/2009 4:28 pm

    excellent blog, i’ve been following it from Boston, USA. Most people here I think are quite jealous of the time that you’ve had to yourself, solitude is a precious gift for those lucky, or even unlucky enough to receive!

  5. Catherine permalink
    30/08/2009 10:50 pm

    . If you feel strongly about an object you will have to attract the support of at least two other people.

    I’d still happily give a home to the seabed fossil, but I am not sure about this condition – not sure how to go about attracting the support of other people. Does it count if I can get the support of people I know offline, or does it have to be people on here? I’m pretty sure I could manage the first option.

    • 31/08/2009 8:59 pm

      Hi Catherine,
      How you attract support is up to you. The main point is that if you are really enthusiastic you will find a way. Anyone you manage to enthuse offline can be invited to make their support known here. They may be friends, family, colleagues, students, polyps, anyone at all.
      You are also welcome to come along to the meeting at the museum on September 3rd. Please see my latest post, ‘Hermit-at-large’.

      • Catherine permalink
        02/09/2009 2:41 am

        I can manage that. 🙂 See you at the meeting then.

      • 02/09/2009 7:16 am

        Catherine has my full support. Is there anything I need to do other than make that known here?

        I know she would be heartbroken to lose that fossil.

      • Liam permalink
        02/09/2009 12:01 pm

        I’m one of Catherine’s best polyps…er…and I’d just like to say that she’s possibly the best person I know to leave a fossil to, especially one so linked to the sea. It would be in excellent hands.


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