Time as an agent
With work by Narcis Alispahic, Camille Besson & Maxime Testu, Pauline Cazorla, Isaac Contreras, Ashley Cook, Aaron Fabian, Kevin Gotkovsky, Ravi Govender, Romain Grateau, Paul Guian, Gitte Hendrikx, Jean-Sébastien Massicotte-Rousseau, Coline Mir, Philip Pilekjær, Juliette Russbach and Sarah Sandler, arranged by Stuart Bailey
Friday 26.06 at 6PM
27.06 – 11.07
HEAD – Genève’s Curatorial Institute
Rue du Beulet 4
Wednesday – Saturday, 2 – 7PM
This exhibition by students on the HEAD’s Work.Master course is the outcome of a couple of semesters ‘ worth of thinking about how Time can be usefully registered by artworks. Their projects extend from these two introductory briefs from the Winter 2014 and Spring 2015 semesters:
The most patient piece of work in recent memory is Michael Apted’s remarkable documentary TV series, UP. In 1964 he filmed a bunch of 7-years olds from a variety of social backgrounds across Britain, and has since continued to documented their lives every 7 years. The next instalment is due in 2019, when his subjects will be 63. It’s effect is quietly brutal.
Here we’ll consider the ways in which work can register time, and why we might want it to do so. We’ll move from the particular to the general, starting with a consideration of how time is written into the surface of a single piece of work – what it looks or reads or feels or sounds like. Then we’ll observe how particularly drawn-out projects get palimpsestuously revised, refined, and overwritten. Finally we’ll see how a particular working ethos plays out across an entire body of work over the long term.
Alongside Apted’s series, we’ll look at a wide variety of examples from across the arts, assemble a bank of relevant reading, and observe how the class itself changes over the course of the year.
We can perhaps distinguish at least three different ways in which we’ve been considering how Time might be productively folded into artworks and other cultural mediums/artefacts, as demonstrated in such as the UP series, and variously throughout all the other examples we’ve brought into the seminar. I propose thinking at least with these terms in mind, though they’re by no means watertight:
1. Time as a SUBJECT: This is fairly self-evident. In the case of the UP series, the subject matter or theme is how the subjects change over time, how their lives progress, ebb and flow, and generally conform to or differ from expectations relative to their class backgrounds. You could also see the entire series as simultaneously documenting both British society in particular, and globalisation in general, in the second half of the 20th century and on into the 21st.
2. Time as a MEDIUM: This is less easy to apprehend, but what I have in mind in terms of the UP series is, for example, how the production of the series becomes an interesting aspect in its own right, i.e. the use of each consecutive era’s film/video/editing techniques and conventions. Otherwise put, the dominant ways of working are (inadvertently) registered by the programme as it rolls along.
3. Time as an AGENT: Now I’m not exactly convinced that ‘agent’ is the right word – or whether there IS a single word that sums up the idea, and I’d like you to try to think of some other possibilities. But I do know what I mean to imply: namely, the ways in which the actual *making of* the programme gets folded into the series’ surface, and becomes both a driving force and a constituent part of the whole enterprise. So for instance, how
participating in the UP series gradually starts to affect the lives of the participants. Or, from a technical point of view, how the samples of previous programmes get necessarily shorter and shorter as they continue to function as a shorthand reminder of the story so far. And also, perhaps, how the series inadvertently becomes a document of director Michael Apted’s work, as much as that of of the cast.
For this practical semester, we’ll concentrate on this last of the three categories: Time as an AGENT. So the task is:
*During the remainder of the semester, each of you should produce a piece of work that in one way or another registers the nature of its own evolution; in other words, a project that captures how it has changed – and is changing — over time. This could be an entirely new project, an adaptation of an existing one, or a side project that runs parallel to or supplements another piece of work.*
There are many different ways you could take this brief, but I definitely want to you to stick within the boundaries of the basic idea. The point of my identifying Time as a ‘subject’ and ‘medium’ above is mainly to emphasize what i’m NOT expecting you to do. I’m not expecting Time to be the subject of your work, which could equally be concerned with, say, cars or Lichtenstein or golf or Madonna. Nor am I expecting Time to necessarily be the medium, per se. I want you to make apparent the vicissitudes, the contingencies, the changing states, the NATURE of the work’s progress. This implies a documentary or diaristic aspect, though the work might not necessarily look anything like a documentary or diary.
Image: Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the Apple Watch during an Apple event in San Francisco, California March 9, 2015. (c) Reuters / Robert Galbraith.