Nature provided us with a general way to measure time: dividing it into days, lunar months, and seasons. Since ancient times, however, we have invented ways of measuring time in smaller units with ever-increasing precision – from the sundial to the hourglass to the atomic clock. As clock making technology advanced during the Renaissance, handsome public clocks became a source of civic pride, as well as a useful amenity. In today’s digital age, they more often evoke a sense of nostalgia for another era.
In Against the Run, Alicja Kwade (b. 1979, Katowice, Poland) has created a clock that tells the correct time, but does so in a way that confounds expectations. Adapting a nineteenth-century design that we might typically see in New York City, the artist has reversed the conventional mechanism. The face of the clock rotates backwards while the second hand appears to stand still, pointing vertically at all times. Our understanding of how a clock should run is second nature, making this variation almost impossible to read, even as it continues to tell the right time. Kwade’s whimsical clock captures her interest in the systems we invent to make sense of our lives and the world. In doing so, it prompts us to see “reality” from a new perspective.
This exhibition is curated by Nicholas Baume