I had to come back to the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich a second time in a short row as the photographs of Gillian Wearing under the title “Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say” really struck me the other day.
I was wondering why?
All these answers on the signs hold up by different people with varying backgrounds, nationalities, gender and age have one thing in common – they don’t hide anything! It’s the pureness and directness of the moment indicated by these signs that deeply touched me. And it was rather shocking for me to, once again, feel how trained we are in our society and what keeps us also so busy to maintain a certain picture of ourselves. Anything that could put a hole in this image makes us rather shuffle it down even deeper. “But I’m not going to tell anybody how I feel inside”, one could argue. And I understand!
What happened to me was – when I, as an experiment, asked myself the question: “What do I want to say and not what someone else wants to me to say?” – it brought me first and foremost closer to myself; the focus from the outward immediately dropped inward.
And I realized that these pictures really confronted me with my own vulnerability. That made me very humble in this moment. The part in me that is always functioning, always being the strong woman and keeping successfully up all the balls of daily modern life and more, suddenly made space for the layer underneath.
The truth is that there are also many moments in my life in which I feel very weak. And I barely allow myself to feel that way, not to mention talk about it, because it’s not what society accepted paradigm is and it’s also not what our conditioned mind is constantly – consciously or unconsciously – trying to suggest us.
Once again, the encounter with art opened my eyes for a different way of looking at things, at me!
On my sign today I would have written: weak and vulnerable.
To give these parts in me some space and acknowledgement, simple letting them be without doing anything with them or trying to get them out of sight, shifted my whole day. The feeling with it was that of sweet gratitude.
We all unite so many divers facets within us and it’s exactly this – in all its individual mixture – that makes each of us the unique being that we are.
It’s sometimes good to pause for a moment and honor us – life – for that.
So: What do you want to say and not what someone else wants you to say?
Let yourself be surprised by the answer!
Have a great weekend!