19 May 2008


picture by A5 Magazine
Does everyone have free will or just some of us, some of the time?

Last week at the Institute of Contemporary Arts a disparate group of collectors were taken by the hand and led gently up the slope of obsession to the precipice of madness.. whence they were invited to peer over the edge.

It was part of series called the Philosophy of the Overlooked (faintly ironic that it was a sell-out, then) and we were all there - well, I was there - to understand why people collect and perhaps (having been known to be a collector from time to time) to understand ourselves

And also, it must be said, because Mrs Botogol and I have joined the ICA and I want to get my money's worth.

The ICA had invited the audience to send in pictures of their collections and these were displayed overhead before the talk started, and then they showed us this film, which I would recommend to anyone who has ever alphabetised their CDs, catalogued their books, or stared forlornly at a garage full of stuff, wondering where it all came from (it's 20 minutes, and if you prefer you can watch it in HD here)

POSSESSED from Martin Hampton on Vimeo

After it was done the collectors shifted their feet a little, there were some coughs of the "I am with you, but not of you" type, and we all looked around at each other wondering which one of us it was who collected the knives.

Do OCD sufferers have free will? They don't seem to have free will - not even to themselves and I wonder if seeming (to oneself) to have free will is no more or less than actually having it, and conversely to feel that free will is lost, is to lose it. In other words: No, they don't.

Or perhaps, some people might say: they should simply pull themselves together.

The panel smiled and articulated and opined, distancing themselves carefully from the subjects of the film, and certainly no one in their right mind could accuse Anita Zabludowicz of having anything other than the freest of will of the most expensive kind.... But still, but still.. a careless reference to continuing her collection 'to see what happens to my life' had unnerving connotations of a force just slightly beyond her control, and when she said it the phrase 'I could die like this', from Hampton's marvellous short film, echoed in my mind.

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