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Brian Lobel

first performed on February 21, 2011
Brixton Village Market, London, UK
performed four times in 2011


London, UK


“Carpe Minuta Prima” addresses the value of time and the pressure for people post-illness or post-trauma to engage with cliches like “seize the day.” In a busy marketplace, my assistants and I, dressed in black suits w/red shirts, attempted to buy minutes of the lives of passersby for £1. If they agreed to the Mephistophelian pact, participants were brought into an unadorned closet. Participants then recorded a minute of their life doing anything they wished. People sang, told secrets, stripped, called friends, stared into the camera, and slept. Upon finishing their minute, each participant was photographed with their £1 coin, and made to sign the following contract, “This certifies that Brian Lobel, with my consent, and for the price of £1, has become the exclusive owner of the minute of my life contained within.”

One week later, a vending machine was unveiled in the market containing 360 DVDs, each a unique art object containing the 1-minute video the participant had recorded, their photograph on the front cover, and their contract on the back. Each DVD was shrinkwrapped and available for the price of £1, but only after the hard drive containing all archival information was destroyed, thus ensuring each DVD to be a one-off minute of someone’s life.

I created “Carpe Minuta Prima” in response to having been told, for the nine years since finishing cancer treatment, that I am lucky to have knowledge about the “true” value of time. The only thing worse than cancer, or the death of a friend, or a trauma of any sort, is to feel pressured into having that illness or difficulty necessarily be transformed into something good and happy. No one’s minutes need to be worth more. And a pressure to fill every second with something extraordinary seems a horrific goal. No one outside can or should determine which of your minutes should be worth more than others. That choice is yours.

About the DVDs: Some will be terrible, some will be meaningless, some will be boring, but others will be expansive, exciting, sexy, dangerous, restful, important, political, romantic or touching. Much like life. It takes all kinds, however, and, according to the clock and to the machine, they all are worth exactly the same.