Sam Pulitzer: The Premise of a Better Life

Sam Pulitzer’s The Premise of a Better Life is an artist book that combines photographs with ethical and existential questions addressed to the viewer, developing as an allegory of the contemporary condition.

The subject of a 2019–20 exhibition at Kunsthaus Glarus (CH), The Premise of a Better Life gathers photographs of everyday things, ambiguous details, nondescript landscapes, and cityscapes. Most of them were taken in New York – though the city appears as the pale reflection of a model city; a reflection of its own ideals, a “sunken horizon.” Each picture is accompanied by a question: “Can you afford yourself ?” “Are you waiting for a moment that just won’t come?” “If you knew then what you know now, would it make a difference?” “Do you trust happiness?” The montages do not offer a clear narrative, but a complex, personal, at times satirical image of the present age and its promise.

Pulitzer wrote for the book an original essay that unfolds the philosophical and political issues that are at the core of the project, in which he questions the notions of homo economicus and that of “frontier.” The artist notably discusses one the key references of the project: Ernst Bloch’s essay, The Principle of Hope. Pulitzer sheds light on the sites pictured in some of the photographs, opening their interpretation and challenging their perception beyond codes and the cliché.