Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Some thoughts triggered by Roman Ondak

I've just come back from a visit to the Deutsche Guggenheim, where there is an an exhibition of Roman Ondak's work. It's been a while since I saw something I enjoyed so much. Immediately I began to think about the connections between his work and our project, and became inspired for the possible forms my own contributions may take.

Here are a few preliminary thoughts:

From what I have seen of Ondak's work, he engages the everyday in both its forms and its processes. However, he inserts slight disruptions in how we perceive something ordinary, by focusing attention on things usually overlooked, or bringing out the absurdities in banal actions and events.

What came to the fore was an interest in the idea of time as something experienced as part of everyday life. Of waiting, of time passing or stopping. Keyhole 2012, was exactly that - a keyhole in the wall through which one could spy the street outside. What you looked out to was a kind of booth on the grassy median strip, which had a large round clock on it. I wondered whether the clock was part of the work, or whether it was incidental.  It connected in my mind the idea of looking with that of time passing. The idea of looking at time passing - something which immediately slows the experience of time down so as to become excruciatingly palpable.

On the other side of the room was Awaiting Enacted, 2003, a series of newspaper clippings with photos of people waiting in queues. In a similar way it highlighted a process by which the passing of time becomes conscious in the drawn out act of waiting and anticipation, and at the same time illustrated the absurdities of these situations. The act of time passing becomes an event through the action of standing in line. Nearby, was End of One Era, 2012, a broken mechanical calendar on a Le Corbusier table, where time had literally stopped and become only abstract figures.

Time is something so integral to our lives. Of course it is always passing, and we think of it superficially, in terms of being late, or waiting for something, of meeting deadlines, of boredom, anticipation, rushing... (It is interesting to think of the experience of time in relation to the spectacular; is it faster, slower, are we more aware of it than in our daily lives?) My question is, how can we actually work with it? Notice it in the course of our days and lives? Time is something Utako and I have spoken about quite a bit in our conversations lately. We thought that, because this project involves people living in different time zones, sending things by various means which each have their own duration, and the fact that the project is taking form as a work in progress developing within a given time frame, this topic is integral. 

What first made me think of our project, however, was the work, Balancing at the Toe of the Boot, 2010. It was shown in two parts, with clichéd postcards stating "we are still alive" (à la Kawara), and fake newspaper clippings with snapshot type images of the artist posing in front of holiday scenes. In a little documentary film about Ondak, screening alongside the exhibition, it is mentioned that his work often has to do with travel. Not just with physical travel, but also travel in your mind. I think this is an important thing to think about for us as well. In our project we will be sending something away, so it is the object that travels physically, but I think this also provides an opportunity for the artist to travel, metaphorically, within their normal everyday.

No comments:

Post a Comment