We tend to experience the arrival of each new year as though we had stepped on to a staircase going in one direction, that of biological time marking growth, maturity and decrepitude. And, certainly, for the majority of people the years circulate along this curve, from birth to death.
For Western societies, since the Modern era led us to believe in progress, years always proceed along the straight line from less to more, from worse to better. For millionaires and businessmen, the line rises, too, in the direction of the heavens, in pursuit of the highest possible numbers and profits. The pessimists and radical sceptics see the same thing, but in the opposite direction: from more to less, from better to worse, from heaven to hell.
But what is certain is that Old Father Time, if such a gentleman exists, observes everything from a certain distance, which is to say from an ironic point of view. What, then, would the passing of the years be to him?
Perhaps similar to Sir Pendulum: now swinging in one direction, now in the other. There are changes and differences, because everything is always different, but the axis or the hand from which the pendulum hangs is always in the same place. Which is to say, time moves and produces changes, but at the same time is always in the same place.
Sir Pendulum has just left us a suitcase on which is written ‘2018’. The suitcase contains all manner of events, an almost infinite repertoire. The citizens of the world open the suitcase and out comes what the future holds for each one. Our paths seem marked already, with little room to deviate. That’s why people imagine Mr. 2018 as dressed in black, with an unfriendly air, because nobody likes to be told what to do. But everyone believes, there’s no choice but to buckle down and get on with things.
Artists and puppeteers see the suitcase in a another light, as a tool box; and Mr. 2018 is seen as a driver or a simple salesman. The events, the episodes, the diversions and shortcuts are what time gives us for our personal use. We obey the traffic rules and the signposts, but we choose the contents that best suit and best please each one of us.
The events we take out of the suitcase are objects to which we give the power to direct our lives. But we puppeteers know very well that the life of objects is that which we project on them, even though later they may wish to break free and control us. They both are and are not subjects, they have this double ontological condition of being and not being what they seem to be, like puppets themselves. When they are still and we look at them, they are passive objects that receive our life breath and our desires. When they move, they are active subjects that, nevertheless, never cease to be the objects they are.
Pocket sun dial, photograph by , Wikipedia
With the year’s events the same thing happens: they both are and are not subjects, they direct us but we know, too, that they are what we want them to be. This double component frees us on the one hand, but makes us responsible on the other. And, at heart, we know that the year’s suitcase is the one we are carrying when we decide to leave the old year to enter the new.
From Puppetring, we hope the world’s bringers of New Year gifts will offer everyone a personal 2018 suitcase, stocked with useful instruments that will allow us to create the changes and events we desire, while, at the same time, liberating us from potential impositions which emerge from various collective suitcases.
(Translated by Rebecca Simpson)