I will always be too expensive to buy.

Art is about making a statement. I will always be too expensive to buy. The first in a series of 3 made by Adrian Piper is a simple one. Atleast on the surface.

The three statement installation greets me just past the ticket counter at the Hamburger Bahnoff. Housed in a massive space at Berlin’s most respected gallery, the first impression for the uninformed like me is a surprise. Three desks with just a statement and an individual at each. What’s the big fucking deal?

The space, the layout, the simplicity. They all draw you in and make you walk up to the man at the first desk and ask what this is about. “It’s a simple statement. If you agree with it, you can sign a contract agreeing to it.”

“Ok.Where’s the rest of it?”

“That’s it.”.

“Ok. So I sign a contract and then what”.

“That’s it. You can move on to the next statement. Or the next exhibit. It’s your choice.”

“Ok. So I’m supposed to sign the contract?”

“It’s your choice.”

Choice. We’re always choosing. Always making decisions. Signing this contract is another choice. There’s no compulsion. I pick up a pad with a contract and read through it.

I will always be too expensive to buy. The contract reads as standard fare. It seems legally binding. My instinct is to not sign. I hate signing contracts. I hate committing to things on paper. I do agree to one almost on a daily basis when I register to a new website, so what’s the big deal – right?

I will always be too expensive to buy. What does that even mean? Who’s going to buy me? For what? For how much? Will it be worth it?

I spend over an hour thinking about the statement. I read the contract several times. It’s standard legalese. At the end of the time, I sign the article and hand it over to the man at the desk. I don’t know what it means. But it’s legally binding. It’s a question I need to ask myself regularly now.  And i’m thankful for that.

I will always be too expensive to buy. Would you sign over a contract agreeing to that.

The next 2 statements raise as many questions. It doesnt take me too long to decide I can’t sign them. I will rarely mean what I say. I work in advertising. I won’t always do what I say i’m going to do. I’m human.

As a post script, it’s important to mention that it’s been some time since an exhibit had me thinking so much. The simplicity yet the provocation of Adrian Piper’s work is something to be commended.