The group-exhibition entitled à contretemps gathers artworks presenting multiple perspectives on time and temporalities. Specifically, the exhibited works all share the quality of colliding different possible temporalities and the scrambling of linear hegemonic narratives.
Sharona Franklin, Gerrit Frohne-Brinkmann, David Horvitz, Katja Mater, Emile Rubino, Nora Turato
Sharona Franklin’s Drosophila Clock x (2021), features metal spoons holding pills arranged like stationary clock hands, the bowls appearing where one might expect to see numbers indicating the time on a standard produced clock; time here is marked not by seconds, minutes or hours but by a medication schedule. Connecting the mind-body complex, childhood PTSD and chronic childhood disease, Franklin’s Drosophila Clocks explore the relationship to Crip time and pharmaceutical impacts on our circadian rhythm. Time, for people living with degenerative disease and disability, often takes on a psychedelic effect.
Gerrit Frohne-Brinkmann’s work allows for an understanding of the present by temporal displacement. It is never clear if his works belong to yesterday, today or tomorrow. The future becomes archaeological, and one finds oneself somewhere in between when confronted with the artist’s work.
The two works on view stem from the series Dirty Parrots (2018) and are discarded toy parrots. In 2007 the company Hasbro launched an animatronic parrot named Squawker McCaw within their product series FurReal Friends. The toy responds to touch and voice commands, sings and dances, communicates hunger and tiredness, is pleased about compliments and — as befits a proper parrot — repeats the sentences of its owner. The magic of technical liveliness, which previously quickened children’s heart beats seems disenchanted today. Frohne-Brinkmann’s parrots are so hopelessly outdated that they seem to belong to a different era. By listening to the recordings by previous owners we are confronted by a sound from a distant place which naturally belongs to the past but cannot be situated there with certainty either.
David Horvitz’s Imagined Clouds (Prishtina), 2023 consists of different kinds of bottled water that can be found in Prishtina. With the labels removed, only the bottles’ shapes and the water inside become visible. The bottles are placed in a scattered formation on a floor. One can imagine the shape on the floor as a cloud, and one can see how the water bottles that are circulating around Prishtina are like an atmosphere that holds water vapor from different locations across the earth. For Horvitz, this is an exercise in one’s capacity to imagine. Looking at the water the viewer can imagine its past and future states, understanding that nothing is fixed and everything is in constant flux. With this in mind, this water is temporarily halted from the process, as it is trapped in the bottles.
Watching you become the sunset is a script usually made from pinholes in a screen, visible only as long as daylight passes through it and which disappears at night. For the exhibition the work is materialized as a vinyl with a perforated text, so the text only becomes visible as long as sunlight passes through.
Katja Mater’s Time is an Arrow, Error (2020) is a series of 79 clocklike images. Clocks themselves are always busy, always doing something; they tap, tik, growl, squeak, hum, hit, blink and point. But in essence, no clock can measure time by itself, alone. It is always necessary to compare one clock to another clock. In this way all clocks are connected.
Two clock-faces are staring at each other. They are two sides of one thing, as different as they are the same. They move as two bodies revolving around each other, into a tender embrace. A kiss, made of time, in time. Mirrored shapeshifters, their hour-numbers climbing on each other’s shoulders. Running up against the limits of their usefulness, clock likeness. The series Time is an Arrow, Error entails lay-ers of duration. The process begins with a drawing of half an analogue clockface. The drawing is then photographed in natural light, producing two separate negatives that each capture the image over different extended exposures. Subtle shifts in light lead to variations in colours and, in some cases, the uneven transcription of shadows on the photographic plate. Finally, one of the two semicircles is flipped or rotated, resulting in a whole clock formed by two irregular halves. The steady passage of mechanised time is thus expressed in imprecision and irresolution.
Emile Rubino’s According to the Microwave is a modest still-life with a hot plate and a greasy microwave – common sights in the shared kitchens of most artist’s studios. This still-life comes with options: frozen dinner, beverage, pizza, baked potato, popcorn and of course, reheat. In French, to call something reheated (du réchauffé), is a pejorative way to express that a thing has already been said, done and repeated too many times. According to the Microwave prides itself as a ‘reheated photograph,’ a photograph served time after time – a photograph that exists through repetition and consciously accepts its relative impotence as yet another picture about time and photography. Playing with the notorious inaccuracy microwave clocks, each iteration of this picture features a different time on the digital display of the cheap appliance. Apart from the time change and the subtle inconsistencies in the material production of the photograph as an object, each photograph is exactly the same as the one that came before and the one that will come after. There can be as many iterations as there are minutes and hours in a day, each one unique but each one almost the same – another way to deal with the arbitrariness of editioning prints. Every new picture reasserts a questionable belief in the accuracy of the microwave’s clock, equating it with our shared if increasingly dubious belief in photography’s descriptive quality. As a willfully flatfooted riff on 1970s Italian photo-conceptualism, this work notably considers Ugo Mulas’ famous series of Verifications (1968-1973) and Fanco Vimercati’s One Minute of Photography (1974) in today’s context. The time visible on the microwave’s clock could have been digitally altered in post-production, just as it could have been manually adjusted on the appliance, just as it could be the result of the photographer’s stubborn patience.
Throughout Nora Turato’s oeuvre, which spans performance, video, graphic design, and wall work, she boldly deploys text in various permutations to alchemize the onslaught of language in our contemporary moment. Turato utilizes the written word and speech to conceive her works. Seemingly free-asso-ciative but deliberately scripted, the artist’s endless snarl of words is culled from social media platforms, news headlines, exhibition press releases, and her own thoughts, among other sources.
The three enamel works on view epitomize the lustrous, blown-up appearance of post-proof graphic design. Absurdist as the sequences of layered texts appear to be, they express moments of visual clarity to the viewer. Sifting through the debris of culture, Turato attempts to unravel the tenets of graphic design, reveals the myriad ways in which text and speech are deployed, and furthers tension between form and content. The words/phrases detached from their original source and context become monumental and void at the same time, situating them outside the constraints of linear time.