Doctor Faustuses’ Daily Affirmation
© Roman Ermolaev


Doctor Faustuses’ Daily Affirmation

With Doctor Faustuses’ Daily Affirmation, Billy Mullaney proposes a speculative (albeit sinister) self-improvement practice based on the tenets of operant conditioning within behavioral psychology. Using rewards and punishments to enforce behavior change, the premise of this practice is to self-inflict operant conditioning in an effort to undo inherent bias and (ostensibly) negative desires. Billy proposes this work as a solo, with himself as the “practitioner”, although the form (a demonstration, a recording, a daily practice, etc) is up in the air–as is the mode of spectatorship he wants to encourage upon the work, which feels necessarily split: Ultimately he wants to produce an idiom about the neoliberal imperative of self-management, and to use the aesthetics of empiricism to blur the line between self-improvement and self-destruction.

At the same time, however, Billy doesn’t want to give the research wholly over to cynicism: he wants to empathize with the (including his own) desire towards self-improvement, and a learned impulse to self-punish for failing to live up to his own values. Moreover, he wants to raise questions about what a “good person” even looks like in 2021–how is “good person” performed, through what platforms, and for whom?

Billy Mullaney

Billy Mullaney is an Amsterdam-based artist working in theatre, choreography, and performance art. His research focuses on representational practices in and of various sites of performance, the modes of spectatorship they conventionally engender, and how interventions in the former affect the latter.