“Time [documents of contemporary art]” Edited by Amelia Groom and published through The Whitechapel Gallery
As I write this, I feel like my closest connection to time is a lack of it. I didn’t choose to write on this book about time; a lack of time meant didn’t check my emails before class and missed the message that instructed me to choose a book to present and discuss in class. If I had more time I’d be writing about a different book. If i had more time you’d not be reading this on the sparsest possible webpages. If I had more time, maybe I’d feel calmer. If I had more time…
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been waking up and browsing through my to do list. Despite my efforts, the list grows. While I scroll through it I have a fantasy that's been creeping into my mind. What if i just bought time?
In this book, George Woodcock scrutinises the development of the modern clock. His writing echoes Lukács’ Marxist analysis of the segmentation of time in capitalist life which enables the monetisation of time. Time becomes money and with that, money becomes time. So maybe I should just buy time. A small chunk of money could buy me a big bag of speed and with that i could have no sleep and a third more time. Then I’d be closer to Gaz. Its not distance we’re battling with, it's a lack of shared time. Timezones mark her evenings the middle of my night. While she worries that time are running away from her, I’m unconscious of the passing of time. This reminds me of how physical space and time are always interlinked.
This book highlights the trickiness of time. Amelia Groom begins the book by rolling through the diverse and often contradictory uses of the word time. The passage of Augustine’s work reminds us of other contradictions time creates. The present necessarily lacks extension, as otherwise it would stretch into the past or the future, but our conscious attention is continuous. The past must pass from existence to allow for the present, but somehow the past exists in our memory and affects the future. The puzzles scrutinizing time creates lead Jorge Luis Borges to refute the existence of time. He asks “If time is a mental process, how can thousands of men - or even two different men - share it?” We do share time though. Time may be elusive but this is one of the things we know about it. Mine and Gaz’s love exists in shared time. Time is communal.
I’d love to explore how artists work with times communality. I plan to write about how artists create collective memories and how this has been exploited by the western modernist avant garde and its use of African Art. I hope to discuss Juliana Huxtables work which responds to the disappearance of black web-histories and Morehshin Allahyari’s work of repairing history by recreating destroyed artworks with 3D printers. Lets see if i get enough time.