CosmiC SiblingS: Guillaume Levy-Lambert’s Big Idea that Might Change the World
An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis
“It” never ends. I started planning our 60th birthday celebration with the intention to “tell The Calendar Story like never before”, and now I see that creating the CosmiC SiblingS Beta community is more urgent and important than I had realised and will continue to be part of my life for years to come.
As a part of my series about “Big Ideas That Might Change The World In The Next Few Years” I had the pleasure of interviewing Guillaume Levy-Lambert.
Guillaume Levy-Lamber is a Singapore-based conceptual artist, whose artist statement, “documenting Divine providence”, is developed in the TEDx of the same title. Guillaume is also the co-founder of The MaGMA Collection and Art Porters Gallery.
An advocate of reinvention, Guillaume started his professional life in financial services with BNP Paribas Asset Management (1984–1997), where he held increasingly senior assignments in Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. He later joined the communications industry, as Asia Pacific regional chairman for Publicis (1997–2007), tasked with building an advertising network.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you please tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In March 2000, I heard the voice of the late Roy Lichtenstein tell me he had created “Desk Calendar” for me (for context, see the episode MaGMA 0300 in the catalogues of The MaGMA Collection’s 2010 and 2014 exhibitions). For years, I wondered what Lichtenstein had meant.
I had first encountered “Desk Calendar” a few months earlier at MOCA in L.A., during my first ever museum visit with my life partner, Moonbeam, who I had met just once month previously.
The painting depicts an appointment book with several inscriptions. The main date shown, Monday May 21st 1962, is the day I was born. There is also one date circled– October 26th. This is Moonbeam’s birthday.
A few years later, Moonbeam and I were stuck in Phuket when the tsunami hit. This is when the awareness of our mortality struck me, and I decided that my priority had to be sharing The Calendar Story. It took another three years for me to leave the corporate world and start a conscious process of coming out as an artist.
Can you please share with us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
One of the key inscriptions on “Desk Calendar” reads: call 212–288–4820. Of course, I dialed! A few times, over the course of several years.
When I called again in 2011, a recording stated, “this number is not in use”. So, with the help of Xavier Roux, I acquired the number. To this date, the number shown on “Desk Calendar” is my US phone number.
For about five years, as the painting travelled from LA to Chicago to Washington DC to London and back to LA, hundreds of members of the public called the number. Like me, they were curious about the painting and who the number might connect them to. I collected their voice mails.
In 2016, I managed to return some of the calls, on Skype or FaceTime. This lead to about 30 hours of recordings from which Romy Engel and I created Evidence, a five minute film produced for the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco.
It is through this project that I encountered my first Cosmic Sibling — that is, someone who was also born on 21st May 1962, the date depicted in “Desk Calendar.”
This ultimately led me to where I am today, focusing my energy on the CosmiC SiblingS project (more on this later!).
Which principles or philosophies have guided your life? Your career?
Curiosity. As a teenager in the late 1970s, I embarked on genealogical research, following threads and enjoying the discoveries along the way. I even received an award from the hands of a physics Nobel Prize winner, Louis Néel.
Consultation. I learn from my friends. For example, when I decided to leave the bank and to start a career in advertising, I drafted a letter to Bill Tragos, the T in TBWA.Over the next ten days I rewrote it 10 times after showing it to a few friends and taking in their feedback. A version of the same letter found its way to the desk of Maurice Levy at Publicis (no relation), who hired me to build their Asia network.
Courage. For more than 20 years, I have lobbied for the renaming of Petain Road in Singapore. A long story, and still work in progress. Along the way, I am documenting Divine providence, my way of enjoying the ride and noticing the clues that the universe sends along the route of this treasure hunt we call life.
Chutzpah. I once took an unopened gift to the hospital for a CT Scan. A dozen years later, still unopened, it became the center piece of my 2020 exhibition, Le Secret Sacré.
Ok thank you for that. Let’s now move to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about your “Big Idea That Might Change The World”?
The big idea is to create a platform that will facilitate human connections along largely unexplored dimensions.
I have stumbled upon a desire for bonding that the existing social media platforms do not service well today.
Through the CosmiC SiblingS project, I am attempting to reconnect with some of the 300,000 or so fellow humans who were all born, like me, on the 21st of May, 1962. I say reconnect as it feels like we’ve all met before (as in before incarnating, like in a scene from Disney’s Soul?).
CosmiC SiblingS will bring us closer together. We come from all walks of life. In our first virtual meeting in 2020, while we were all in the big lockdown, we had participants from Colombia, Mexico, Canada, France, the USA, Ivory Coast, Dubai, The Philippines, Singapore.
And that was only a small group of pioneers. The connections felt between us all are unique. You can get a feel here.
How do you think this will change the world?
We will increase the emotional awareness and realisation that we all belong to one big loving human family, and that we can all touch each other’s lives. Each of us is an agent of Divine providence for countless other persons.
I personally cannot imagine any drawbacks to connecting with as many different people, from as many walks of life, as possible.
If any of the readers feel differently, I encourage you to message us on https://www.instagram.com/cosmicsiblings/.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this idea? Can you tell us that story?
I first calculated how many people were born on the same day as me 23 years ago, a few weeks after seeing “Desk Calendar” for the first time. I was hoping to prove that I didn’t need to alter my agnostic view of the world as surely “Desk Calendar” would resonate as intensely with many others as it had with me.
When I inherited Leo Castelli’s former phone number, my secret desire was that one of the callers would leave a message saying “it’s my painting!” so that I would be free of the inescapable feeling that I am worthy of such a special attention.
This almost happened with caller DC86. In 2012, he had left an innocuous voice mail saying, “greetings from Chicago, from the Art Institute”. The tipping point was connecting with him, in the summer of 2016. It turns out that Michael Davis is one of the CosmiC SiblingS.
His grandmother’s birthday was October 26, the date circled in “Desk Calendar”.
What do you need to lead this idea to widespread adoption?
Will each of you reading this join me on 21st May 2022, when I celebrate with a few CosmiC SiblingS from around the world?
Everyone is invited.
Please sign up here and assist in spreading the good word.
You could look amongst your Facebook friends who has a birthday on May 21. That “market” is about 20 million people.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why.
- “It” never ends. I started planning our 60th birthday celebration with the intention to “tell The Calendar Story like never before”, and now I see that creating the CosmiC SiblingS Beta community is more urgent and important than I had realised and will continue to be part of my life for years to come.
- Midlife crisis. As a young adult it’s an expression we hear often. They should warn you that it feels like a violent roller coaster ride that starts without warning. You see, I’ve tried a few times to bring The Calendar Story to an end so I could focus on other exciting stuff on my bucket list.
- Once you’re done climbing Mount Everest, you discover countless other summits awaiting. The 2010 exhibition had been a formidable challenge, and I realised that there was still so much to do. This being said, we’re enjoying the view. Whilst I have not climbed Everest for real, in 1990 I did climb Mount Fuji. They said it takes three hours, I think it took us the whole night. I loved the expression on my friends’ faces when we reached the summit and I opened my bag, with a cool bottle of Champagne ready for us to savour. Running down was so fun!
- You can’t have it all. Well, I still fantasise about multi-tasking.
- One can rebel and be rewarded for it. Aged 12, I decreed I would not do my bar mitzvah. I think G-d decided to make me gay so I would understand what it means to be Jewish (for me it’s two rather similar experiences). A quarter century and a few heartbreaks later, I met Moonbeam. And had my bar mitzvah for my 39th birthday (see MaGMA 1339).
Can you share with our readers what you think are the most important “success habits” or “success mindsets”?
Ask and you shall be given? Please share this article and send CosmiC Siblings my way.
Gratitude, generosity. We are all CosmiC SiblingS, we are all born on 21 May 1962, all our paths are lit by Divine providence.
Positivity. Look for the blessings in disguise. Do you know the story of the Chinese farmer?
Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)
Andy Warhol also inspired me, with this quote “good business is the best art”. What if we told you that the next revolution will be spiritual, and lead by an artist?
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Instagram — @cosmicsiblings
Event website — 21May1962.com
Facebook event — https://www.facebook.com/events/1003567250253396
Linktree — https://linktr.ee/cosmicsiblings
Personal — https://linktr.ee/guillaumelevylambert
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.