50th AnniversaryApril 10–July 19, 2009
Intervals is a new contemporary art series designed to reflect the spirit of today’s most innovative practices. Conceived to take place in interstitial spaces or beyond the physical confines of the building, the program invites a diverse range of artists to create new work for a succession of solo presentations. Intervals is inaugurated with a multipart installation by Julieta Aranda (b. 1975, Mexico City) that activates the museum’s triangular staircase.
Challenging the perception of time as a linear progression marked by clocks and other systems, these works propose an alternative notion of temporal experience as a shifting and unquantifiable state. A peephole near the staircase reveals the image of an hourglass, a traditional symbol of mortality. Viewed through the refracting optical device of a camera obscura, the grains of sand appear to flow upward in a startling reversal of time’s passage. Nearby, patches of paint on the walls recall the look of covered-up street graffiti. Using phosphorescent paint, Aranda has transcribed quotations about time drawn from sources that span more than 2,000 years. The words become visible only when the space is periodically darkened.
One floor above, Aranda has installed an oversized clock in which the day is divided into 10 elongated hours. This system references decimal time, a short-lived initiative introduced during the rationalizing fervor of the French Revolution that reorganized the day into 10 hours, containing 100 minutes of 100 seconds each. While the clock pays homage to this act of iconoclasm, the movement of the second hand represents an entirely subjective experience of time, corresponding directly to the fluctuating rate of the artist’s own heartbeat over the course of one day. In an accompanying sound piece, a transistor radio emits a recording of this heart rate, suggesting the nuanced tempo of human experience.
—Katherine Brinson, Assistant Curator
The Intervals Leadership Committee is gratefully acknowledged.
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