4 July, 2018 – blog
Look twice. At least twice.
„Time“ is clear, isn’t it? At least, relatively.
A central topic of the exhibition is the analysis of “time”. At first glance, that is a well-defined term, right? The phenomenologies of “time“ are a key field of research for physicists, philosophers and artists for centuries. With Einstein, Newton’s “absolute” time has become “relative”, and this is common knowledge meanwhile, but there are still many unanswered questions.
What is time? What does measuring time mean? How does time relate to space, to causality? How do we experience time? The Raqs Media Collective has a very impressive metaphor to describe the task: „To ask a human being to account for time is not very different from asking a floating fragment of plankton to account for the ocean. How does the plankton bank the ocean.”
What time is it in Beijing? 20 past 8. Or „indifference after ecstasy”.
A key piece of the exhibition is the installation “Escapement” (2009). A collection of 27 clocks for each hour of the day reminds us of the clocks that hang in the offices of international companies, so you can quickly see if the colleague on the other side of the globe is already working. New York, Beijing, Johannesburg. 24 clocks represent real cities, 3 clocks represent imaginary ones. Babylon, Shangri-La and Macondo. A fictional place where Gabriel García Márquez has settled his novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude”. The clocks for the imagined places are mirrored, and they also go backwards! What at first glance simply seems to be the “time“ of the day/night, in fact is a state of being, an emotional category. There is a time for fear, duty and guilt, indifference, awe, fear and panic, but also for fatigue, remorse and nostalgia. At 12 o’clock, it’s time for „epiphany“, divine revelation. By the way, there is no time for „escape”, at least it is not on the dial. And yes: “Escapement“ does not only include the English word “escape“, but is also the technical term for the “inhibition” of a clock, some element that ist integrated into the clock mechanism to enable the periodic stopping and releasing of the gear mechanism, and thus, ensuring the regular course of the clock.
Some rarely asked questions are not to be answered. At least, not with one single answer.
The Raqs Media Collective loves ambivalence, likes to stage the surprise “at second glance”. It sometimes reminds of matryoshka dolls that are nested into each other, and that are to be discovered one after another. With every new look, the interpretation might differ. For example, the video installation “The Knots that bind are the knots that fray” (2010) tells the story of a true event, that in fact is a parable of transition and “shift”. In 2007, the Swan Hunter shipyard went bankrupt in England, and the entire equipment was shipped to the west coast of India, where it was reassembled and put into operation. Amateur video material of the dismantling and transport of the last crane were the source and raw material for this video installation. The “knots” in the name of the work of art refer to the nautical nodes, once as a measure of the speed, but also in connection with the knotting of ropes, and also refers to the global entanglements and “knots”, that might lead to economic shifts. The ancient British Empire with strong maritime tradition becomes a supplier to the formerly dependent colony. Former glory is also a theme of a large installation in front of the K21. The elements of the installation “Coronation Park” (2015), which can be experienced on a tour of the small park in front of the K21, actually show hollow or halved monuments, as if witnessing the lacklustre pomp of an empire that seems to be already gone. Or does it still exist? And to what extent? History is linked to the problem of time, and eternity seems to be a quality that is to be questioned, whereas shift and transition are definitely part of the game. Go ahead and see what happens! Everything else is ordinary…”