Curated by D. Ashlee Harrison,
Director, Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Time is money. Time is fleeting. Time is precious. Time heals. Time is of the essence. Time is an illusion. We make time. We take time. We spend time. We race against time. We fight time. We try to control it – speeding it up, slowing it down. It’s just a matter of time.
Perhaps if there is one lesson to be learned in this moment, it is that we must surrender to the here and now. With the entire world seemingly forced into pause, we cannot help but reevaluate how we look at time, and what it means to us as individuals and a society. When the future feels uncertain and we are forced to question the preconditions of life as we know it, we have to remain in the present—the only reality we know to be true is that the Time Is Now.
There is no better time to reflect, to take action, or to truly live in the present. We believe in art’s power as a portal into the “now”, capable of transporting us into the present through the beauty of the unseen or unimagined.
This constellation of works, carefully selected from the archives of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, delves into various perspectives and concepts of time, questioning our place within it. Artists featured in the exhibition carry on in the tradition of the scientists and philosophers that have contemplated, analyzed, and conceptualized time over thousands of years, engaging the concept across a variety of forms and media—from sculptural timepieces to conceptual installation.
The Time Is Now situates a diverse group of works in dialogue with one another, revealing several common themes that unite each artist’s approach to the topic of time.
Certain works address time’s ability to create structure and set parameters, exploring its role as a marker of the past, present, and future. In a literal sense, life’s milestones are measured by hours and minutes past midnight or noon, days, months, seasons, or years. Clocks and timepieces play an important role in creating this order, but can also tell a story about the lived experiences they track. Examples include two sculptural pieces from Maarten Baas’ ongoing Real Time Series, which integrate narrative and performance with the rotation of the clock, as well as Studio Job’s Big Ben Aftermath and Time Bomb that serve as both totem narrative and working timepieces.
Several works study the ephemeral nature of time, attempting to capture the fleeting moment where time stands still. Examples include Random International’s Temporary Printing Machine, which captures a large-scale representation of the person standing before it that begins to fade almost as soon as it emerges; Vincent Dubourg’s Rupture and Commode Inner Vortex, works which appear to be frozen in the midst of explosion, as if being sucked into a vortex; Ocean Memories, a circular table work by Mathieu Lehanneur that evokes a surreal and materialized vision of an ocean frozen in its movement; DRIFT’s Fragile Future 3.16, a three-dimensional sculpture, consisting of bronze electrical circuits connected to a light emitting dandelions, that represents the preservation and infinite cycles of life; and Sebastian Braikovic’s Lathe V, through which the artist pays tribute to the past and looks towards the future through the combination of modern techniques with classical shapes and an artisanal use of materials.
Additional works question the reality and existence of time, including two pieces from Robert Stadler’s 24H series: 24h Linda and 24h Paulista. Hybrids of light-box photographs and a mural clock, each work distorts a straightforward reading of time.
Michael Craig Martin’s Timetable and Paul Smith’s The Hurrier I Go The Behinder I Get, both office desks, playfully allude to how we can literally work around the clock. Occasionally, with our rigorous schedules we can feel in the boxing ring, like with Morgan Tschiember’s Fighting Against Time.
Other works speak to the necessity or “time” for change, symbolizing a hope for a revolution of consciousness and the awakening of more mindful beings. Atelier Van Lieshout/ Joep Van Lieshout continually investigates the cycles of life that are born through the passage of time and the end or destruction of systems; while his clock sculpture Pendulum is designed to destroy and change so as to make way for the potential of new beginnings, his scepter-like Walking Stick 5 Hourglass reflects on the path to the future.
Ultimately, the works included in the exhibition ask us to consider where we sit within time—Is it in Ron Arad’s After Spring, Before Summer or in Wendell Castle’s Is It Tomorrow (Left, Right) Who are we? Where are we going? How do we want to be? And what will tomorrow bring? Only time will tell. The answers to these conundrums… we may never know.
— D. Ashlee Harrison
Director, Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Two pieces from Maarten Baas’ ongoing Real Time Series, Grandfather Clock – the Father and Sweepers Mantel Clock, integrate narrative and performance with the rotation of the clock. The forms of Baas’ sculptures directly reference time pieces, while the video elements included in each reveal various character archetypes and personalities that perform the act of telling time, in ‘Real Time’.
Likewise, Studio Job’s Big Ben Aftermath presents a gilded, polished, patinated, and painted bronze sculpture that is both totem narrative and a working timepiece. Job has long held an affinity for clocks, often imbedding them into his sculptures with satirical humor and historical or pop cultural references. Through this work, Job tells a story centered around one of the one of the most iconic timepieces of the world: London’s Big Ben. His protagonist is delicately balanced beneath the aftermath of the 2005 Double-Decker Bus bombings, holding itself from crumbling unto the Parliament below. Job’s work sensationalizes an unprecedented moment in history, one that almost brought the great nation to its knees.
Job encapsulates this same spirit with a lighter approach in Time Bomb—a dark twist on the nineteenth-century mantel clock, in which a V-2 rocket blasts off from an architectural base, destroying its surroundings.
The work creates a large-scale, impermanent representation of the person standing before it, printing their image with light onto a lightsensitive surface. The portrait begins to fade away almost as soon as it emerges; the work erases every mark it makes. Each captured moment is immediately lost and can only be experienced as process. Temporary Printing Machine follows an aesthetic of presence and erasure that Random International has developed over the years.
Vincent Dubourg’s Rupture and Commode Inner Votex are works that appear to be frozen in the midst of explosion, as if being sucked into a vortex – a mass of whirling fluid or air. “ His sculptures, resembling the remnants of an industrial accident or a natural calamity, often capture — like a still image in slow-motion photography — the moment when an object explodes in a violent blast or is pierced by a hostile tree branch.” – Nazanin Lankarani’s October 2014 NY TIMES article ‘Man and Nature, a Mutually Destructive Relationship’
Mathieu Lehanneur’s Ocean Memories evokes a surrealistic and materialized vision of an ocean frozen in its movement. The circular table captures the complex movements of waves and water currents, becoming a three-dimensional image of Nature’s fifth element. «The transition from solid to liquid can only come from the magic of physics. A moment of tilting from static to movement, a passage from the inert to the animated.» Mathieu Lehanneur
Fragile Future III by DRIFT represents the preservation and infinite cycles of life, which are so treasured. The dandelion symbolizes the dichotomy of the resilience and fragility of nature, and our struggles to preserve it, immortalize it, and keep it in place. The project is a critical yet utopian vision of the future of our planet, wherein two seemingly opposite evolutions have made a pact to survive.
The sculpture consists of three dimensional bronze electrical circuits connected to light emitting dandelions. The sculpture can go on endlessly as new circuits can always be added. It contains real dandelion seeds that were picked by hand and glued, seed by seed, to LED lights. This labor-intensive process is a clear statement against mass production and ‘throwaway’ culture. Are the rapid technological developments of our age really more advanced than the evolution of nature, of which the dandelion is such a transient and symbolic example? And how could those two evolve together?
Sebastian Brajkovic’s Lathe V could not exist without historical precedents, or our appreciation of them. Yet the technologies of today further his ability to realize these surrealist forms. Cast in bronze or aluminum like sculptural art works, but remaining functional as furniture, the artist’s chairs are both a tribute to the past and a prelude to the future. As Gareth Williams observed, ‘These hybrids exist entirely in their own present, but are built on our recognition of the past within them.’
In this work, modern techniques collide with classical shapes and an artisan use of materials. The turning of the lathe is evident through the central axis of the seat, and the rotation is further highlighted by the pulled, extended lines of the embroidery. This echos— almost comically—the movement of a stop-motion cartoon flip book. In a turn of wit, Brajkovic offers a view of the underside of the seat even though the viewer is standing up straight. He bends perspective like a painter might, but on a three-dimensional plane.
Works from Robert Stadler’s 24H series are hybrids between light-box photographs and a mural clock. Stadler takes banal and familiar images as his subject matter, such as 24H Linda’s image of a sultry still porn star, “Linda”, or 24H Paulista’s depiction of a Sao Paolo highway overpass with a local citizen resting alongside the roadway.
Once the viewer has detected the indicators of hours and minutes embedded within each work (with Linda, her beauty mark and left eye, and with Paulista, the two intersecting roadways) they will be able to read the current time. The porn actress’ face and the landscape of Sao Paolo undergo various distortions in Stadler’s hands, reflecting the collective experience of a busy day’s work. The pieces revert to their original likeness twice daily, at noon and midnight.
As part of an ongoing series, Van Lieshout has created staff-shaped “walking sticks”, sculptures that recall the form of a scepter of wisdom. The artist refers to visionaries, or the forerunners who redeem the masses and lead the way into the future. One staff shows an image of devotion, rationality, and loss, and measure that time is running out. The work questions the position of visionaries and prophets, as well as the steps one needs to take before finding the path to the future.
“Isn’t it the staff which leads the way, even before the visionary himself reaches the path to enlightenment? We should follow it in order to reach Utopia, a new world, despite the uncertainty or risk involved.” Joep Van Lieshout
Atelier Van Lieshout’s improvised, explosive walking stick will lead us to a new future, though it indicates time in the most violent way. With every step, we are closer to the end, to make way for a new beginning.