To Whom It May Concern.
This is a letter of support, for Jessie Bullivant and their work Thinking of you, which was realised in January 2020. During that time Jessie was living and working in an apartment which was subleased from me and my partner while we were away from Helsinki. I think this is partly why I was asked to write this letter and to focus on this specific work.
Thinking of you is a re-performed David Horvitz’ work I will think about you for one minute (2007)1. The original work consisted simply of a text on Horvitz’ website “For $1 USD I will think about you for one minute. I will email you the time I start thinking, and the time I stop.”, alongside a PayPal button for transferring the money.
Jessie was invited to contribute to a fundraiser exhibition for the bushfire relief efforts in Australia.
Due to immaterial nature of their work, which doesn’t translate so well to a fundraiser context, they proposed to Horvitz that he loans Jessie the intellectual property of his work, within which Jessie will donate their time to perform the thinking. Price of a minute was 1 AUD. So three things separate this from Horvitz’ piece: act of subleasing of intellectual property, currency and donation to a cause. Horvitz’ practise seems to largely evolve around issues of authorship, distribution and transaction so it was likely he would be up for something like this.
In the end six persons bought time and Jessie thought about them for the combined time of 55 minutes, all happened to be people Jessie knew. Some purchased more time than a minute. An email was sent when thinking started and another one when it was over. 55 AUD was donated three ways to bushfire relief fundraisers: Fire Relief for First Nations Communities, CFA Public Fund, Wires Wildlife Rescue.2‘
Against a dollar an artist will think about you. For me both these works centre around questions of language, value, transaction, time and thinking – all at the same time invisible and abstract, yet they’re in the core of large part of what constructs, shapes and impacts our reality3.
1 Is it really possible to think about someone even for a minute consciously? I have always had this issue with certain relaxation techniques where you are told to think about certain part of the body one at a time and relaxing them – I was never able to do that because when I start to think of certain part of the body, it starts to itch, tingle and I get restless.
2 ‘RAIN DANCE ~ An art fundraiser for bushfire relief’ at GREY GARDENS, Narrm/Melbourne, January 19, 2020.
3 Also somehow the word “telepathy” won’t leave me alone when I think about all this. When I was a student I asked a teacher to write me a recommendation letter – they told me to write it myself and only send it for them for signing. Ghost writing for ones own benefit must be common.
This work is accessible, it’s not luxurious. A dollar is a sum you could ask in the street from a stranger without necessarily having to explain yourself. The average rate one pays for being able to talk to a psychotherapist is 2 € / minute, but then you need to explain yourself. Value is determined with a contract and mutual trust – it is fully arbitrary and the price could very well be something different here. The work is also open ended instead of a limited edition.
Thinking of you sets forward an exchange of energies, money and time, and a transaction of the funds to a benefit cause from where its transformed finally into action. The amount of donation could be described as somewhat everyday. Can’t think of anything more concrete than the fact that the earth is on fire. For me this work is not cynical and hopeless, more like the opposite. Sorry for my pathos but I want to include here an Isek Dinesen quote: “Write a little every day, without hope, without despair.”
Jessie’s practise is born out of its surroundings and from the communication/language that this surrounding generates. The work seems to not be aiming for attention, it’s sometimes even evasive in its attitude and can be unrecognisable as art. It’s not seeking for a certain perception or reaction from you. I sense rare openness, unfixed thinking, position and outcome. Works that can live as rumours, exist around and in the side of established structures, seeking for routes and cracks to work with, leak in, escape.
I wholeheartedly encourage you to study and support the practise of Jessie Bullivant in anyway you can.
Espoo, 13th of October 2021