Public Statements

WHAT DO YOU THINK CONSTITUTES PROGRESS?

Guggenheim Forum asks you to post your own statements on progress, comment on the Declarations, or just enjoy reading other visitors’ thoughts on the topic.

Comments

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student wrote :

I think progress is many things one of which is human knowledge moving forward.
student posted on 03/12/10
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Linda Marcos wrote :

Progress is all that we know.
Linda Marcos posted on 03/10/10
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Nicolas Eliaschev wrote :

What is progress? An eight year old boy asked me that question while I was about to start ascending the museum’s rotunda.

I was surprised. I had read about Tino Sehgal’s exhibition but I did not realize what it was about until I actually experienced it on a cold March afternoon.

I was not prepared to answer the question about progress that the boy asked me. So I just answered the first thing that came into my mind. I said that progress was being able to overcome challenges. What sort of challenges, I was asked. I said: challenges posing significant dilemmas towards your path in life, dilemmas that require that hard choices be made. The boy passed the torch to the next interpreter as we kept ascending through the blank rotunda. I spoke about my job. When the interpreter at that point (a guy in his early twenties) suggested that it seemed that for me progress was related to success, I nodded. Then I discussed independence with the next interpreter, a woman in her thirties or early forties. I reflected about parenthood. The torch was passed to the last interpreter, a man of the age of my dad. At that point the ceiling was really close. He told me about his father, a rose gardener in post war Indiana. We discussed family and upbringings. We spoke about spaces for individuality in a rigid world. Then it all ended.

I was left perplexed and transformed and then had thoughts about progress when contemplating the void. I thought that my ascent through the blank rotunda was pure progress. Pausing to reflect on one’s self (and to learn) seemed like progress.

I was (am) surprised. I guess allowing one self to be surprised is progress. Somehow I felt a giant leap had taken place in a totally unexpected way. Art had contributed to this leap. That art should have a specified purpose or mission or that art is supposed to contribute to something, these are ideas that may be regarded as outdated. But I can’t deny that Tino Sehgal’s work contributed surprisingly to a sense of very deep personal progress.

Nicolas Eliaschev posted on 03/09/10
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@TheLittleArtist wrote :

Progress is understanding one's self and moving forward. Progress, as performed in the exhibition, is allowing ones self to be free of misconceptions about an art museum, and allowing yourself to enjoy a new experience.
@TheLittleArtist posted on 03/09/10
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Angela J Min wrote :

Okay, let me take a stab at this. Here is my little bit of “self-reflexive folly." The Guggenheim is giving us possibly the most clever example of progress. The museum has asked "What is Progress?" and not coincidentally, has asked the question smack dab on the Web page page called DECLARATIONS. It’s a simple enough question, and yet, “unquestionably” profound because in fact, the museum has given away the answer. By the sheer act of asking the people the question, the museum has declared what the answer is. For indeed, the question IS the answer! When a society asks questions of its people, then progress is possible. And so the “Question-as-Answer” that it is, it is therefore not a static entity. Instead, it is a fluid, organic “thing," a work in progress. It is a back-and-forth dialogue of many voices responding back to the question, creating more questions, creating more dialogue. And ultimately, isn’t that what art ultimately is? A dialogue between the self and the world at large, about what it means to live in this world?

Here is a contrasting example to illustrate what progress is not, and it is a bit extreme for the sake of illustration. Tyrannical governments tend not to ask its citizens to ask questions of the self-reflective kind, particularly those that may lead to follies of the most revolutionary and mutinous kind! In other words, they do not ask its citizens "What is Progress?" Instead, they TELL the people -- or hammer it over their heads -- what “progress” is, either in highly controlled sound bites blared over state controlled airwaves, or by threat of death or severe punishment.

In a free society, the ability to Question IS the founding premise of freedom. We have the right to question our leaders, to question policy, to question laws, corruption and abuse of power. The right to question is the power of the people. And so, we have the genius of the Guggenheim, asking quite innocently -- What is Progress? And we have answered, on Facebook, Twitter and on the Declarations page. And that is precisely what progress is, in action, one Facebook post, one Declaration at a time (thankfully here, with more than 140 characters allowed!). I therefore Declare that the Guggenheim, having asked me the question, is actual Progress itself. The Declaration of Independence (hmm, that declaration word again!), the Renaissance, the invention of print, the Protestant Revolution, the suffrage movement, the Civil Rights movement, and now, the Guggenheim’s latest exhibit, “Contemplating the Void," are all revolutionary acts of progress.

Angela J Min posted on 03/08/10
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Lampis wrote :

Πρόοδος in Greek, progredior in Latin = moving forward and especially the course from a lower to a higher quantitative and qualitative stage. But what is a higher quantitative and qualitative stage? Who shall judge it?
Lampis posted on 03/07/10
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Conxa Rodà wrote :

Progress is to fail and try again
Progress is to learn from our own mistakes

Progress is acting against injustice

Progress is choosing reconciliation instead of vengeance (so, I guess, our world is not really making great progress yet).

Progress is to use our skills to contribute to a better world

Progress is always a step further than where we are.
Conxa Rodà posted on 03/07/10
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Beatrix E. Hanausek wrote :

To put it simple: Whatever we think is better now then it was before, we call progress. Everyone likes to think we are progressing and the twenty-first century certainly seemed to have taken ownership of this term even though history shows it is not a new topic.

Progress is subjective and what I like about the question in regards to progress is that it forces us to look at the beginning as much as the ending point. Progress means moving forward, however one has to know where one is coming from to make progress. I believe, this is one of our greatest challenges, the unwillingness to really look at every aspect of the now and the unawareness of who we are and how our cultural, societal and individual background influences us.

I see Abigail E. Disney‘s quote: “I have come to believe that progress toward a peaceful civilization lies in the journey back. . .” as making a journey back to find out who we really are, how culture, society and our personal life has defined us and how it influences us in what we see as progress.

To make one last point, Lawrence R. Samuel wrote in his declaration: “Progress also helps us forget the failures of the past and uncertainties of the present, its focus on what will be of considerable therapeutic value.”
This might be just the reason, why we don’t like to take time to analyze and to understand our differences: We all want to feel good quickly!
Beatrix E. Hanausek posted on 03/07/10
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Lucas E wrote :

As Lindsay M-S said, "anything that contributes to the completion of that project,"
Corey Gosset, "...development amd implementation of a plan... allowing the plan and the means... to evolve," and
Timo Kent, "feeling good about what you´ve accomplished."

Great yoga teacher to listen to Timo!


Lucas E posted on 03/07/10
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Jimmy Fingers wrote :

Progress is word invented by a human to make other humans feel better about our general lack of safety, security and resources.

Isn't it comforting to know that this recession, personal crisis, disaster, war, etc. that you find yourself in is only temporary and that this struggle is going to lead to some benefit, tangible or not, for you and/or those you care about. One might even be so comforted as to want to take actions that would aid recovery, resolution, rebuilding, peace, etc. If those desires fell on the right person and the desires were strong enough, that person might act. That act would be a physical manifestation of hope and if it were successful, the situation that this person of action found themselves in might be improved. Then somebody would come along and declare "Progress has been made!", probably while standing in the way of the person who took action.
Jimmy Fingers posted on 03/07/10
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Enrico Delponte wrote :

Progress is something you should have done yesterday.
Enrico Delponte posted on 03/07/10
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veronica wrote :

progress is a feeling today, a fact tomorrow
veronica posted on 03/07/10
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Bridget Brennan wrote :

Progress is being able to think for yourself, be open to new ideas, not worrying about being "right," recognizing the value in all individuals and the power of working with others to find new solutions.
Bridget Brennan posted on 03/07/10
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Allison Frew wrote :

Progress is an ideological construction for those who believe in teleology, or rather, those who naively expect an end result in which the product will be perfect - but bear in mind that humans have never accomplished this before and most likely never will.
Allison Frew posted on 03/07/10
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Priscilla Seminario wrote :

Progress is to break your own limits and achieve things (as little or big they seem to the rest) that you couldn't do before. If every person started progressing by themselves, much bigger problems would be solved at a larger scale.
Priscilla Seminario posted on 03/07/10
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Mark E Merrill wrote :

Progress is a word, like every other, and we must continue to wrestle not only with the idea or definition of these words, but idea of language itself.
Mark E Merrill posted on 03/05/10
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Emy Kat wrote :

Progress is to grow and one can't grow in destructive measures witnessed on our globe today.
Emy Kat posted on 03/04/10
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Roberta Marques wrote :

Progress is to be asked by an 8 year old boy at the Guggenheim Museum "what is progress for you?" at the unforgettable performance installation of Tino Sehgal.

Progress is not to have a clear answer, but take the time to think honestly about it.

Progress is to be able to communicate openly with a boy, a teenager, an adult and an older person about the same subject.

Progress is to be able to say, to be listen and to listen.

I told the little boy that "progress" is what is written on the flag of my country. Then he replied "So, progress for you is a flag??" I think he asked me the right question. My answer is "no, progress FOR ME is not a flag!" But apparently for lots of people progress is a flag, like to be part of a certain country, culture, social class...

I take the inspiration from Tino's work and try to say: Progress is to be able to communicate openly with people from different backgrounds. To be able to understand and be understood.

Looking Forward!
Roberta Marques posted on 03/03/10
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Sevag Minassian wrote :

Progress is when you don't sweat the deadlines like you used to.
Sevag Minassian posted on 03/03/10
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rita toohey wrote :

I have often thought about how people around the world lived in the past centuries and were they much different then us and have we made any progress at all? All I can see is that our luxuries have improved (at least for some of us). We may have nicer warmer homes in the winter and more clothes and food, but is that progress? I think Progress is that NOW we have the ability to communicate globally to each other and learn about each other due to the internet and technology. Now we can talk to people half way around the world and learn HOW they think and feel and maybe do something to help.
rita toohey posted on 03/02/10
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Amanda Monaghan wrote :

Progress is the ability to put the past behind you, and move forward--with one foot in front of the other.
Amanda Monaghan posted on 03/02/10
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Kenneth Pappa wrote :

Speaking in terms of creativity progress is ELUSIVE. It does not happen daily. For example if you were painting the largest picture in the world and finished a 4`x 4` section daily, some might call that progress. Not me, unless the manner or medium being used were revolutionary in themselves. So, on the ladder of progress more often than not there are centuries between each step!
Kenneth Pappa posted on 03/02/10
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Lindsay M-S wrote :

When discussing a finite project with a clearly defined end (like traveling to a destination or building a clock), progress is anything that contributes to the completion of that project.

When speaking about technological or philosophical changes within a human culture, it becomes more difficult to define progress. Every single person seems to hold a different goal for their society in mind. After a goal has been selected, the means for achieving it are theoretical at best and often backfire.

To now shift the tone of my response to one that is embarrassingly personal, I would like to mention that I hope for a future similar to the one depicted on the cheesy old TV show "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

I like the idea of an ecologically balanced and nearly disease-free Earth full of well-nourished, friendly and over-educated science-and-art dorks, each of whom heartily embraces their family's ancient cultural heritage while taking miracles like international peace and food replicators for granted.

I suppose that this makes me a dorky humanist who considers anti-poverty, anti-pollution, anti-violence, pro-education, pro-science and disease prevention efforts to be progressive.
Lindsay M-S posted on 03/02/10
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Erica R. wrote :

Progress is accepting the existence of the Absurd.
Erica R. posted on 03/02/10
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Sevag Minassian wrote :

I simply see progress as an incremental step towards improvement. Improvement is to better your last. However progress is clearly visible in hindsight. As most of us have an idea as to what's ahead, we all know what has passed.
Sevag Minassian posted on 03/02/10
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Nicholas Croft wrote :

Oscar Wilde's reasoning makes a lot of sense to me, though I am sure there are other reasons that progress begins:

“Discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation”.

As for the next moves, it partly depends upon whether someone is willing to share our idea about what's making us unhappy.

The other part seems to depend on whether or not we have a worthwhile vision about how our situation might be improved.

If things are getting better, as the idea of progress suggests, should we all be happier now?

On balance, who is happy today and who is not?

How do the stories of their lives teach us lessons about how we might find happiness for ourselves and for the others that we might encounter during our day?
Nicholas Croft posted on 03/02/10
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Magda Riga wrote :

Progress means not to be static... that's all.
Magda Riga posted on 03/02/10
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Corey Gossett wrote :

Progress is an idea with focus on a specific area, followed by the development and implementation of a plan. Progress is sticking to that plan while allowing the plan and the means by which it is put into action to evolve. Progress is also abandonment.
Corey Gossett posted on 03/02/10
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miru v wrote :

Progress comes through change, through the capabilities that we humans have of moving forward.
miru v posted on 03/02/10
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jameld wrote :

Pogress is relative and goal dependent.
jameld posted on 03/02/10
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Glen Fabisevich wrote :

Progress is discovering ourselves anew each and every day, and being able to heal the world with the wonders which we are discovering. Once we have healed the world and we can live on a healthy planet where all are in harmony and love, then progress has been achieved.
Glen Fabisevich posted on 03/02/10
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Troy Gethers wrote :

i believe that progress is a full state of mind. progress should be defined as individual achievement if you will, unless you shift it to a business or some sort of entity that needs to move forward. we all are humans trying to push ourselves relentlessly toward something. our goal is the movement for progress. at the underlining factor of process and also undeniable that all people must move forward. even in these so called trying times. we all must agree on one thing..... doing NOTHING is no progress.
Troy Gethers posted on 03/01/10
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Siona wrote :

What I appreciate about progress is that it implies process; that is, something in progress is something still incomplete, something as-yet-undone, something more verb than noun.

We are, after all, each progressing helplessly toward only one final state, each moving inexorably toward death, and until we get there we will always be—thankfully—works-in-progress. Progress, for me, is the ongoing awareness and acceptance of this, and progress influences my practice in precisely this way.
Siona posted on 02/28/10
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Timo Kent wrote :

My yoga teacher said the other day that progress is feeling good about what you’ve accomplished, no matter how big or how small. I thought this was an important lesson because it made me realize even in our supposed failures there is a kernel of how we can or should do better — failure and progress are inextricably linked. To only focus on one pole of this axis is to do yourself a disservice. Progress therefore in this light might be seen as the ability to take what life throws at you and, in the end, know that you’re going to be okay.
Timo Kent posted on 02/26/10

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