top of page

Attempt at ambition, 2020

HDV, single channel video 3 min

"You should be ambitious, not pretentious," said a good friend a number of years ago. I had just explained to him how nice it would be to wake up without a sense of throbbing ambition and that I would like to live a life as free as possible from ambitious pursuits. Ambition and pretension are dangerously close to each other. The word ambition has its etymological origin in going about and soliciting votes (gaining followers and support) and was equated with pride, vanity and arrogance in the Middle Ages. Ambition thus belonged to the group of character traits that one would try to tone down and, if possible, neutralize - perhaps by shifting the focus to a life that was imbued with virtues instead.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Without you sink? Is the genus dying out? Is it possible to have the ambition to have no ambition? Does anything get done at all without ambition? Are there other drivers that could be given more space? I think so.

Attempt at... is a series of performance works that deal with portraying emotional states using simple tools. I give myself a specific mission - to row a sinking oak; to drag a small house to the highest point of the mountain or to get from one place to another without touching the ground.


"Be ambitious, not pretentious" a good friend advised me some years ago. I had just declared how relieved I felt on days when I was devoid of ambition- how wonderful it would be to live a life where ambitious endeavors were reduced to a bare minimum. It's a fine line between ambition and pretension. The word ambition has its roots in Latin, where it originally meant "a going around, especially to solicit votes, a striving for favor, courting, flattery; a desire for honor, thirst for popularity”. Small wonder then that ambition as such fell into the same category as pride, arrogance and vanity; traits of character that most would agree are detrimental to one's spiritual well being.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Can we stay afloat without ambition, or is it really a prerequisite for our success, as individuals as well as a species? Can you have the ambition not to have any ambition? Is there another ethic that would serve us better and allow for healthier relationships with our fellow men and the planet we live on? I think so.

Attempt at... is a suite of durational performances that deal with manifesting emotional conditions with the aid of simple tools. I give myself a specific mission for each piece: to drag a small house up the mountain; to get from point A to B without touching the ground; to row a leaking boat across the lake.


bottom of page