hrs:min:sec - An exhibition on time

Peter Fischli/David Weiss, Douglas Gordon, Pia Greschner, Derek Jarman, Lutz Mommartz, Beat Streuli, Rosemarie Trockel, Fred Zinnemann, A Journey by Train from Bonn to Berlin

22 October – 15 November 2003

Curated by Udo Kittelmann


Hours, minutes, seconds is how we have come to chronicle the passing of time, how it technically elapses. In terms of philosophy time could be defined as the irreversibility of succession which allows experience. In psychological terms, time can be explained as the passing of an expected future into the present and then on to the past. However time is almost always perceived differently, experienced subjectively and objectively by different people.

It was through film that speed entered pictures and radically changed our perception. The pictures learned to move, very slowly at the beginning, then increasingly faster until they finally threatened to overtake themselves. In the time of an unlimited flood of pictures, it seems to be film, of all media, by which artists try to stop the speeding up of pictures and to prepare "the end of speed". As heralds of a need which is perhaps the need of "life out there" (Boris Groys) they discover slowness and arouse a new awareness for the time which time needs in order to pass or march on. How long can a second, minute, and hour be? The experience of time is connected to that of waiting, a basic existential experience of man, waiting for something to happen.

The exhibition at Artspace assembles artistic and filmic contributions, which make us aware of this feeling and perception of time, while asking us to spend time. If you really want to watch all the exhibited works in full, you have to spend more than a whole day. Yet since time is one of the most precious resources of our modern life, viewers will hardly have enough to do so. Hence the exhibition intentionally exceeds the time one normally spends in galleries and at the same time emphasizes the artists' concern of gaining an expansion of time for art it often do not have.

Fred Zinnemann's famous western High Noon (1952), starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, is one of the first movies in the history of film, whose story develops (almost) in real time and coincides with the length of the movie. We can see this due to several shots of clocks throughout the movie.

Kanalvideo by Switzerland's Peter Fischli and David Weiss show pictures shot in a dark system of sewers by means of a remote-controlled camera, the usual method of controlling sewers. The video gives the impression of being drawn through an imaginary "Time Tunnel" with time rushing forward and backward, giving the viewer a subjective feeling of the speed of time.

In his most recent work Bootleg Empire Scottish artist Douglas Gordon pays tribute to Andy Warhol's famous "Empire", a movie in which Warhol celebrates time by directing the camera towards New York's Empire State Building for hours without interruption, and without moving it. As homage to this work and to an artist for whom time always was an important subject, Gordon now directs his camera towards Warhol's film.

Pia Greschner from Hamburg works with the slowing of time. She presents three films, all shot within a bluish twilight., named Blue Hour 1-3. The films show "people in usual situations which are intensified by a slight slow-motion and by the light. This stretching and subjectivization of time turns a moment into an event", the artist explains.

Blue, the late English film director Derek Jarman's last film manages to portray the inner picture of time, it's inconceivable eternity and transience. It does this by means of the monochromatic quality of the color blue and an insistent voice-over.

...Social Sculpture is a 1969 film by the Düsseldorf filmmaker Lutz Mommartz. It shows a close up of Joseph Beuys, looking into the camera for 11 minutes. The silent filmic portrait of Joseph Beuys documents the difficulty of remaining still for a length of time - viewer included.

Swiss artist Beat Streuli is a stroller and observer who watches people in the public fields of tension - in the streets and boulevards. While doing so time passes. In his video "Allen Street", the artstic cultivates idleness, the supposedly futile "waste" of time and contrasts it with hectic life.

Cologne's Rosemarie Trockel, shows in Wollfilm a woolen sweater is slowly but surely unraveling after the one crucial thread is pulled. The film forces us to eagerly anticipate the end - the exposure of the naked body.

Finally the exhibition also presents a Journey by Train from Bonn to Berlin in real time, broadcast by a German TV station which - surprisingly - takes its time every night to help viewers make the long night hours pass more quickly.

Udo Kittelmann has been the director of the Museum of Modern Art Frankfurt/Main, Germany since 2002. Prior to that he spent six years as the director of the prestigious Kunstverein Köln (Art Association Cologne) and guest curator at many art galleries all over the globe (Salzburg, Zagreb, New York, Munich, Madrid). He is author and editor of a great number of art books and catalogues. In 2001 he was in charge of the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennial and, together with Gregor Schneider won 1st prize, the Golden Lion, for the best national contribution.

Udo Kittelmann was here as a guest of the Artspace / Creative New Zealand International Visitors Programme and the Goethe Institute, Wellington.