The Birthday Ceremony 

Spanning from 1980 – 1993 (minus the odd year) Calle held a birthday party ritual, inviting a number of people corresponding with her age at the time with one anonymous guest who was chosen by one of the other attendees. This additional guest represented the uncertainty and unknowing of her future. Calle carried out this ritual as a way of ensuring her birthday was remembered which she did by collecting all her gifts and displaying them in a cabinet which she used as a way of reassuring herself that she still had support and love from her family and friends. Calle was obsessed with this ritual as a part of curing her insecurities and even after she had packed up gifts from years before and replaced them with new gifts in the cabinets she would reflect on the old gifts as a way of reassuring her obsessive insecurities. Once she felt cured of these previous insecurities she discontinued her ritual and later displayed her gifts using a series of cabinets displaying what she had received each year of the ritual.

I wanted to explore this piece as a deeper look into the effects obsession can have relating to the spectrum of insanity. Calle’s consuming insecurity lead to a more extreme and altered school of thought resulting in her infatuation with validation from her family and friends. Infatuation soon lead to her repetitive and obsessive collecting and curating of gifts that I consider to be on the insanity spectrum. Like I had previously explored with physiognomy, I believe that it can be much more insidious than the stereotyped perception we have of what it means to be insane and what the face of this insanity looks like.




Grayson, R., Carolin, C. and Cardinal, R. (2006). A secret service. London: Hayward gallery.