I went to New York with one of my friends yesterday to see the Vermeer Exhibit at the Frick. While we were there, I went to the Met too, to see Balthus’s Cats and Girls, which was disappointing after seeing Vermeer’s and his buddies supreme painting skills. Unexpectedly, I fell in love with Imran Qureshi’s Miniature Paintings. Another friend thought I might like them, and boy was she right. On the way to see those paintings I got to experience a wonderful video performance installation piece about time by William Kentridge. The “organ” in the center reminded me a little bit in sound of Tim Hawkinson’s Uberorgan that was at MASS moCA in 2000.Here’s a statement from the exhibit description.
At the center of the installation is a moving sculpture—the “breathing machine” or “elephant”—an organ-like automaton with a pumping bellows. Plans from the 1870s for copper pneumatic tubes under the streets of Paris that would pump regular bursts of air to calibrate the city’s clocks reminded Kentridge of a passage from Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times (1854). Dickens describes a factory machine moving “monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness”—a metaphor for the often convulsive developments in science and industry during the modern era and a reminder of the vain impulse to control time.
The piece references the creation of time zones and mixes science, industry, animation, film, drawing and sound all together. Images move quickly, keeping my 21st century short attention span active and engaged and wanting more–wanting to sit and see what happens next. But ultimately for me, the reminder of the vain impulse to control time became my take-away. I have a problem with time. I lose track of it regularly. Because of this awareness I try my hardest to not do it–and I’m getting better, but I have a long ways to go. Today’s collage is dedicated to that, but also to my friend Graziana–When the mind is backed by will, miracles happen.