BlogExhibition Extras“Your Deeds Don’t Define You” | To-Do: Anxiety, Hope and Self-Measurement

“Your Deeds Don’t Define You” | To-Do: Anxiety, Hope and Self-Measurement


As part of the exhibition “Your Deeds Don’t Define You” we have produced a short publication that features written pieces submitted to the exhibition alongside further texts relating to the themes and works included in the show. In the first of a series of blogposts taken from this publication, Lorna Bryan reflects on David Lisser’s work To Do…

We invite you to consider the various responses and viewpoints that “Your Deeds Define You” has provoked, and perhaps consider what your own perspective might be. Feel free to share your thoughts on “Your Deeds Don’t Define You” via social media using the hashtag #YDDDY or #yourdeedsdontdefineyou

Responses to “Your Deeds Don’t Define You”, No. 1:

Lorna Bryan – To-Do: Anxiety, Hope and Self-Measurement

Image above: David Lisser, To Do…

Writing to-do lists turns my anxiety into hope. By writing a list, I reduce the chances of overlooking something I want to do by committing it to a more easily retrievable format than relying on my memory alone. I am left with a sense of hope that the task will be completed in the future.

“There is something at once uplifting and terrifying about the idea that nothing in the world is so unique that it can’t be entered on a list”

― Georges Perec

David Lisser’s work ‘To Do…’ embodies Perec’s observation that everything can be listed. All of Lisser’s personal ambitions are compiled into one list; simple tasks as well as noble quests are all included without suggestion of a priority order or value assignment. This rings true, I am aware of my brain’s ability to leap from mild concern that there is not enough milk in the house for a cup of tea, to a sudden fear that I may never become the person I hope to be (though perhaps the two are related – is success without tea possible?).

The to-do list can become a marking criteria. Have I achieved what I set out to do? Crossing off an item produces satisfaction. Is it self-satisfaction?: “I am progressing as I hoped”, “I have achieved. Phew”. The sense of relief reveals that prior anxiety. But the sheer length of Lisser’s list hints at this problem: we are constantly reviewing our activity to see if we meet up to our expectations and set further goals – the list goes on and on.

 – Lorna Bryan

Lorna Bryan is part of The Holy Biscuit team


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