24 Hours in Contemporary Art: Reflections on an Exhibition About Time

In: KronoScope
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  • 1 Art History Department, Sapienza-University of Rome

Abstract

Time and its representation have been historically fascinating, as Books of Hours, allegories, and artistic calendars testify. This attention to time has become increasingly more urgent recently, as studies confirm. The exhibition Dall’oggi al domani (From Today till Tomorrow), held in Rome in 2016, focused on the discrete single day, with its date and its 24- hour rhythm. The article addresses the main aspects of that exhibition, its historical background, the conceptual attraction for calendars’ grids, the interest of artists in the everyday, the processing of daily digital traces, time-lapse, and 24/7 formats. Artworks were displayed according to their affinity towards time rhythms, time words, dates, calendars, and diaries. Although the itinerary of the show was not chronological, some historical clusters emerged: for example, the importance of the pivotal year 1966 in time consideration.

Abstract

Time and its representation have been historically fascinating, as Books of Hours, allegories, and artistic calendars testify. This attention to time has become increasingly more urgent recently, as studies confirm. The exhibition Dall’oggi al domani (From Today till Tomorrow), held in Rome in 2016, focused on the discrete single day, with its date and its 24- hour rhythm. The article addresses the main aspects of that exhibition, its historical background, the conceptual attraction for calendars’ grids, the interest of artists in the everyday, the processing of daily digital traces, time-lapse, and 24/7 formats. Artworks were displayed according to their affinity towards time rhythms, time words, dates, calendars, and diaries. Although the itinerary of the show was not chronological, some historical clusters emerged: for example, the importance of the pivotal year 1966 in time consideration.

This took a good 24 hours.

1,440 minutes of opportunity.

86,400 seconds for inspection.

wisława szymborska

“24/7 announces a time without time, a time extracted from any material or identifiable demarcations, a time without sequence or recurrence. In its peremptory reductiveness, it celebrates a hallucination of presence, of an unalterable permanence composed of incessant, frictionless operations.” With these striking words, the art critic Jonathan Crary defines the 24/7 format, in his essay “Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep.”1 He adds, “In spite of its insubstantiality and abstraction as a slogan, the implacability of 24/7 is its impossible temporality.” Here Crary points out the pervasive influence of twenty-first-century capitalism, which expands its effects through space and time, into all the aspects of everyday life: billboards of shops and markets with neon numbers are the iconic signs of this new condition, as well as the individual’s continuous connection to social networks made of many people all across the planet.

This looks like a turning point in a long story. Human consciousness of time has been historically related to Circadian rhythms, based on alternating sleep and wakefulness, rest and activity in a 24-hour day. What is going to happen with this change of rhythm is not easy to foresee, but artistic productions of the last century offer an impressive repertory of representations, inventions, and manipulations of the idea of Time.

The magnetic attraction of artists towards Time (affirmed over centuries by Books of Hours, allegories, artistic calendars, and diaries) can highlight some aspects of the connection between its elusive nature and our attitude, showing changes and continuities, the recurrence of forms, and the emergence of new time-based techniques.

1 Background /Prodromes

The attention towards Time becomes increasingly more urgent in twentieth-century art, as studies and exhibitions indicate. As background, it is worth remembering a recent editorial project curated by Italian critic Achille Bonito Oliva, who attempts to match—as in an oxymoron—the fluidity of time with the encyclopedic form: the Encyclopedia of Contemporary Arts, whose subheading is The Time’ Holders.2 By 2016, three of the five planned volumes had been published, collecting essays by scholars from both humanistic and scientific disciplines, each one having a tutorial figure—Nietzsche, Bergson, Einstein, Freud, Wittgenstein (as well as representative art masterpieces)—as an intellectual compass to follow the movements and detours of this vast topic.

A milestone in the exploration of time in art is the series of exhibitions organized at the beginning of the third millennium. Among the “Year 2000 International Time Exhibitions,”3 it is worth mentioning The Story of Time, held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich; On Time, at the National Museum of American History, Washington, dc; Calendars and Time in Asia, at the Asian Civilizations Museum, Singapore; Tempus, at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; L’Empire du temps. Mythes et creations, at the Musée du Louvre, Paris; Tempus fugit. Time flies, at the The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City. In this long and estimable list, a prominent role was played by the multimedia exhibition Le Temps, vite, curated by Daniel Soutif for the Beaubourg in Paris, and displayed also in Barcelona and Rome, at Palazzo delle Esposizioni, with the title Tempo!4 Since then, time has continued to attract the museum public despite (or due to) its conceptual complexity demanding speculative interest and creative intuition.

2 An Exhibition

This paper presents—as a sort of virtual tour—an exhibition held in 2016 at the MACRO Museum in Rome (Italy) and titled Dall’oggi al domani. 24 ore nell’arte contemporanea (From Today till Tomorrow. 24 hours in contemporary art).5 It focused on the day, with its date labelling it and its 24-hour rhythm. (Figure 1)

figure 1
figure 1Index of the catalogue of the exhibition, 2016.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

An exhibition on this theme can only be a trace, based on a selection of artworks, largely Italian or from Italian collections, with significant foreign presences.6 Canvases, videos, pictures, ephemera, installations, and embroidery in the exhibition cannot be summarized as mere objects to admire. They all suggest an attitude that can be repeated and re-enacted, a game that can be played with this very day. This event grew out of a research project carried out through the blog “diconodioggi,” which recounts every day by means of literary quotes, with references to visual arts, music, and cinema. It is a cooperative database, increased daily with contributions from the readers.7 Further, the exhibition extends beyond the boundaries of the museum walls to interact with users of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—a game played both within the museum’s walls and via the social media that link visitors’ time together.

The exhibition opened with two masterpieces from the beginning of the twentieth century: the tempera painting The Dawn, the Day and the Night, a sketch of the lost stained-glass windows of the Casina delle Civette at Villa Torlonia in Rome, made by Duilio Cambellotti, where the parts of the day are represented via natural forms, and the painting An Instant of Mine (1928) by Giacomo Balla, who in the same year signed another painting of the same title with the annotation 4 April 1928, h 10 and 2’: a futuristic attempt to catch the “here and now” of existence.

The itinerary of the exhibition was not chronological: artworks were displayed according to their affinities and connections in a sort of dialogue about some main themes: Rhythms, Today/Tomorrow, Working Days, Dates and Special Dates, Calendars, Diaries, Transitions, 24 Hours. The topics of fortune and chance were involved as well, in many different ways, such as the long list of Friday 13ths compiled by the French artist Claude Closky, or the consideration of the fortuitous nature of everyday events. (Figure 2)

figure 2
figure 2Claude Closky, Trois mille quatre cent quinze vendredis 13 / 3415 Friday 13, 1992, book.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

Courtesy Collection Eletti.
figure 3
figure 3Manfredi Beninati, “I have never understood the meaning of ‘time expansion’. Have you? Perhaps it means thinking. This is the way the letter began….” Site-specific installation, 2016, Rome, Macro Museum.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

In addition, some site-specific works were realized: an installation by Luca Maria Patella (Tempus/templum/cum patella/tempo d’istante) composed of a small temple with an illuminated shell and a blue circle with classical quotations, and an actual room created by Manfredi Beninati, where visitors—through a small window—could explore and imagine what happened to the still and apparently exploding furniture, books, and lamps inside. (Figure 3)

Many video installations explored the theme of duration, among them: Quattro minuti di Mezzogiorno (2010) by Elaine Shemilt and Stephen Partridge, which “tells in the aesthetic gorgeousness of high definition, the apparent immobility of Midday in the small Molise town of Venafro, where the church bells, in dialogue with each other, prolong the feeling of suspended time”8 ; and Daniele Puppi’s pendular composition of parallel moments in the famous film Psycho and its remake by Gus Van Sant.

A performance by Chiara Camoni virtually gave back visitors the ten days abolished in 1582 by Pope Gregorio xiii’s reform of the calendar. Albert Mayr’s workshops on Time Design engaged participants exploring their own attitude towards daily time.

Despite the non-chronological itinerary of the exhibit, some historical clusters and paths emerged. For example, the year 1966 seemed pivotal because the concept of dematerialization of the art object announcing itself in the practice of art is a crucial one in the consideration of time. 9 Much artwork dealing with the subject was produced in that year, and many artists have devoted themselves to the theme since then. Japanese artist On Kawara began his Today Series, also called Date Painting, on January 4th of that year. 1966 is also the year when the charismatic scholar J. T. Fraser founded the International Society for the Study of Time, an independent organization of scientists, humanists, and artists researching the theme of time under many different aspects. (Figure 4)

figure 4
figure 4Mario Ceroli, Hourglass, 1966, wood, metal net. Rome. Artist’s collection.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

3 The Title of the Exhibition

The title of the exhibition refers to an Alighiero Boetti’s artwork Dall’oggi al domani, a polysemic Italian idiomatic expression meaning suddenly, abruptly, overnight, from today till tomorrow, without warning, from one moment to the next.10 In 1988, the artist had this sentence embroidered in a square grid made of four vertical columns, four letters each. This new configuration of the letters gives the observer new and different perspectives of reading: following the vertical direction, one discovers new words nested inside the original phrase, such as nido (nest), mani (hands), maglioni (sweaters), maggio (May), doni (gifts). According to Boetti, many of his creations were intended to be gifts for friends and relatives. For example, he made calendars (a real bricolage work) each New Year’s Eve, mixing together the sheets of a mural calendar to obtain the cipher of the new year.11 (Figure 5)

figure 5
figure 5A visitor of the exhibition examining Alighiero Boetti, Dall’oggi al domani / From Today till Tomorrow, 1988.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

As explained in the exhibition catalogue by semiologist and philosopher of language Caterina Marrone, the adverbs of time, such as “yesterday,” “today,” and “tomorrow,” are deiptic temporal expressions: to understand them, it is necessary to refer them to their context. They create inherent paradoxes in their use, as pointed out in a famous page in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-glass:

“The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday—but never jam today.”
“It must come sometimes to jam today,” Alice objected.
“No, it can’t,” said the Queen. “It’s jam every other day: today isn’t any other day, you know.”

“Today,” “tomorrow,” “yesterday” are words artists often use: Yesterday/Today is the title of Dan Graham’s 1975 artwork, a device of temporal manipulation “where image and audio track are divided by a 24 hours.”12

“Yesterday,” “Tomorrow” are cut in plastic material in a 2011 installation by Julieta Aranda, titled You Had No 9th of May!, which references the International Date Line that, in the Pacific Ocean, demarcates the change of one calendar day to the next.13

As far as Italian artists involved in the exhibition, the word “oggi” (today) can be found in a striking series of works: Gianfranco Baruchello writes it in China ink amidst a complex net of interwoven signs; Gastone Novelli traces it with color in canvases alluding to calendrical formats; Mario Ceroli builds it in wood, Alighiero Boetti embroiders it. Maurizio Cattelan repeats it in his calendar Grammatica Quotidiana (1989), marking everyday as today. And one could go on, collecting an anthology of adverbs of time revisited by artists’ fantasy and creativity. (Figure 6)

4 Dates

Dates can be loved or despised, remembered or removed. Apart from significant religious or civil dates, as a society we remember those linked to epochal events: D-day, the landing on the moon, 9/11. On a private level, one remembers what is emotionally relevant. Neurologist Oliver Sacks presented the case of patients unable to remember anything from their own lives, but able to state the date of Kennedy’s murder. In his studies on music and the brain, Sacks recounts the experiences of people with the gift of synesthesia, who were able not only to associate colors, sounds, and smells, but also to perceive the days and the dates in space and as color: a futuristic synthesis of chromo and chrono that leads them to experiences such as “counting the colors till Friday.”14

figure 6
figure 6Brochure of the exhibition with the reproduction of Maurizio Cattelan, Daily Grammar, 1989, Offset lithograph on letterpress-printed board and paper.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

Once again, this sentence echoes the already mentioned Boetti, an artist with a strong, inner attention to time: “If you, for example, write ‘1970’ on a wall, then it appears to be nothing, nothing at all, but in 30 years…. [w]ith each new day the date becomes more beautiful. Time, and only time, works on it. Dates possess this beauty, the more time passes, the more beautiful they become.”15

Boetti actually wrote 1970 on a wall: he traced simultaneously with both hands in opposite directions the sentence “Oggi è venerdì 27 marzo mille novecento settanta” (“Today is Friday 27 March 1970”). The sentence is thus doubled as reflected in a mirror stemming from the center and going both towards left and right. In the picture shot by the photographer Paolo Mussat Sartor to document this performance, we see the artist Boetti with arms overstretched to the limit. The figure both evokes the Leonardo Da Vinci Virtruvian man and the crucified Christ, the measure of pictorial space and the sacrifice. As far as the space is concerned, the artist’s gesture recalls Willem De Kooning’s statement “If I stretch my arms next to the rest of myself and wonder where my fingers are—that is all the space I need as a painter.”16 Coincidentally, that 27th of March in 1970 was Good Friday.

The beauty of dates reveals itself in many ways, encompassing time in all directions, not only on the straight line of history, but in the bundle of space and memory. The attention towards dates—as a part of a wider tension towards time itself—captivates artists starting from the 60s: it is significant that during those years this particular attitude towards time has been defined by Pamela M. Lee as “chronophobia.”17

The 60s were an age of technological advancement and deep social changes: because of the acceleration of automation rhythms, to the speed of calculator, to the spread of information, an anxiety and uneasiness about time appeared. We can trace a growing attention to time phenomena in kinetic research, in happenings and performances, in land art, in long video shots, an obsession culminating in the Today Series by Japanese artist On Kawara, in his celebrated canvases. The artist paints on monochrome ground the date of the day during which the canvas is painted, discarding those he did not manage to finish within 24 hours. It is worth noting at this point that the artist explored the issue of presence in the “here and now” in many ways: with collages made of cuttings from daily newspapers from the place where he found himself on that day, with the series of postcards he sent to inform his friend when he got up, and with telegrams saying that he was still alive.18

From that moment, the date ascends from the bottom of the picture, where it was written alongside the signature; in other instances, it moves from the rear of the canvas—where, for example, Constable registered it together with meteorological conditions of landscape—and finds its place in the front, on the recto, in the foreground.

The date is not only a temporal sign linking a work to history (for example the famous July 13th in David’s Death of Marat), but it is the subject of the artwork, connected with the time of its creation. (Figure 7) In addition, dates often become titles, starting from the beginning of the twentieth century, with Futurists’ paro-libere and onward through Klee, Götz, Richter, Irma Blank, to name a few. Dates in titles reveal a diaristic aim and allude to anachronism, in relationship with the layers of time stratified on images.

Made by ordinary days, uniform but difficult to overlap, everyday life becomes—in the 60s and 70s—a relevant theme, attracting attitudes coming from the East and mixing history and chronicle, high and low, boundery and infinity, familiar and stranger, just to refer to the title of one book by J. T. Fraser, Time. The Familiar Stranger.19

figure 7
figure 7Federico Pietrella, Since February 24th to March 4th 2015 (Viktoria-Luise-Platz), rubber date stamps on canvas.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

Courtesy artist.

5 One Day

According to the Treccani Encyclopedia definition, a day is a “space of 24 hours in between two midnights.” During those hours, the Earth revolves around its axis, and the human biological clock adapts pressure, temperature, hunger, and sleep to Circadian rhythms. The cosmic and the local dimensions of time meet in the everyday, in hoc die, the Latin expression from which the Italian word oggi derives.Today is the temporal subdivision of a portion of present that can be controlled and visualized in calendars, diaries, and planners. With its date, today indicates the overlapping of historical time and the recurrence of cyclic time, provoking expectations and memories.

Artists have been fascinated and bound by calendars. The twentieth century begins with a parody calendar, made by French artist and writer Alfred Jarry (1873-1907), the inventor of Pataphysique, the science of imaginary solutions.20 Inspired by him, the French College de Pataphysique, in 1948, fixes a new calculation of time and a New Year’s Day, September 8th, the birthday of Jarry himself.

6 Everyday/Daily

Derived from the Latin cotidie,21 the Italian word “quotidiano,”—that is, everyday—is the place where the unexpected and surprise meet; as Henri Lefebvre writes in Critique de la vie quotidienne (1947), life can take the direction of alienation or of creativity, flattening on sameness or turning towards the new.

American artist Joseph Cornell (1904-1972)—to whom art of the second half of the twentieth century owes much—was well aware of this. His works are boxes with assemblages of objects found during his daily wanderings along New York streets. From his residence in Queens, Cornell moved to Manhattan, looking for rarities, coincidences, objects, and experiences that could light up the routine of his days spent as a commuter. In his diaries, covering 30 years of his life, he underlines the idea of Eterniday, “fusion of timeless and the daily.22

Looking back in history, one can revisit the Greek time aesthetics with its peculiar words and images and the (at least) three figures of Time:

the first one is the time—chronos [χρόνος], a linear sequence of facts, with a past, a present and a future. This is the time considered as a count down, a sequence of instants, hours, days, forcedly directed towards the end of time. The second figure is time as aion [αἰών], a word etymologically connected to aei [ἀεί] always: it’s the time as eternity, as always being—in classical iconographical sources Aion is represented as a boy with the zodiac circle (or with a snake) rolled up around his body. The third image is time as kairos [καιρός], time giving itself in the aoristic (infinite) fullness of the moment. In late-antique iconography, the personification of Kairοs is a boy with a lock of hair on his head, that makes it possible to catch the moment. The image of Kairοs matches with the personification of Fortune/Occasio.23

This architecture of time in Greek culture prompts the classical philologist Monica Centanni to validate the concept that “invented history, the idea that one can write not only about cosmogonies or exemplary actions that must be imitated, but also of what is happening to us just now, in this time of ours.”

Returning to the twentieth century, during the 60s and 70s, the word “everyday”—in addition to the meanings of usual, habitual, normal, ordinary—acquires step by step other shades; it spreads as a new point of view from which both long history duration and running life can be considered. Artists involved in the Fluxus movement—who played with the nature of time in ways musical, poetical, and performative—extend the idea of everyday

In 1963, French artist Robert Filliou chooses his birthday (January 17th) to establish the imaginary date of the origin of art, one million years before. Art’s Birthday could have become the core of a fixed festivity, carrying with it an alternative vision of society, working time and leisure.24

Everyday life is a mostly representative theme for the Situationists: for Guy Debord it is the measure of everything, the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of human relationships, of the use of lived time, of research on art, of revolutionary politics.25 In May 1968, Situationist René Viénet remarked that “l’insolite devenait quotidien à mesure que le quotidien s’ouvrait à d’étonnantes possibilités de changement” (the unusual became daily while the daily opened up to surprising possibilities of change).26

The emergence of everyday time highlights activities once considered trivial, gives importance to the habit of writing diaries, of collecting and inventing daily-based stories and narratives; in this field one can mention artists such as Annette Messager and Sophie Calle.27 Among the investigations of daily territories and systems, one can find also the works by Georges Perec devoted to things (choses) (1965), to spaces (1974), and to the three days in October 1974 during which the great writer and player, sitting in Paris, Place Saint-Sulpice, tried “to describe what remains: that which [we] generally don’t notice, which doesn’t call attention to itself, which is of no importance; what happens when nothing happens, what passes when nothing passes, except time, people, cars and clouds.”28

At the beginning of the 80s, the theme is explored in the studies of Jesuit scholar Michel de Certeau, L’invention du quotidien, I Arts de faire (The Practice of Everyday Life). In 1984 the Italian writer and journalist Saverio Tutino founded the Archivio Diaristico di Pieve Santo Stefano in Tuscany, an archive that collects the diaries of common people, including that by Clelia Marchi, a farmer who handwrote the story of her life on the white fabric of an old bed sheet.29 In 1988 the word Everyday was the title of the Sidney xi Biennale, open to global experiences, because, as the curator Jonathan Watkins writes in the introduction, “everyday occurs everywhere in the world.”30

7 Calendars

The interest in everyday renews the Avant-garde idea that art must intersect with daily life, adding to art practices the dimension of real time, the here and now.

On Tuesday April 19th 1966 (again the year of the founding of the isst), the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (grav) organized in Paris Une Journée dans la Rue, an itinerary of “public actions” running from 8 to midnight, aimed to “break the routine of an ordinary day.”31

The grid of the calendar gives artists a useful graphical field to their conceptual inventions. From one perspective, the current day becomes the support of artistic work, the space and time of in-the-act happenings and performances; from another (and connected) perspective, the current day presents itself as the unit of an immaterial organization system, the calendar, indeed. With its slots, the calendar borrows the prevalent format in modern painting—from Abstract to Minimal—that is, it projects the grid in temporal duration.

“Time is seemingly tamed if we treat it spatially on a calendar or the face of a clock, where we can make it appear as divided into separate units next to each other,” Walter Ong writes in Orality and Literacy.32 The calendar effectively allows artists to manipulate it, moving, cutting, pasting, summing, counting the days boxed in its rows and columns. In this way, the measure of a day—which has always been the unit of measure for the fresco paintings since Middle Age—transfers itself in the practice of the atelier. The Polish artist Roman Opalka, from 1965, paints the progression of numbers in daily work sessions, “a radical project through which he seeks to portray the passage of time.”33

The measure of the day becomes an exhibition format in May 1968 in the Teatro delle Mostre—the Theater of Exhibitions, a series of exhibitions organized by Plinio De Martiis in his famous Roman gallery, La Tartaruga. Every day a different artist could display her or his artworks or make an action in the space of the gallery, in a limited time—one day.

In the following year, 1969, the year of the landing on the moon and the beginning of that network of immaterial connections that would have later become the Internet, the format “one artist per day” was recalled by Seth Siegelaub for an exhibition consisting just of the catalogue. The curator assigned 31 invited artists (among them many involved in the exploration of the time dimension, such as Carl Andre, Barry Flanagan, Douglas Huebler, Lawrence Wiener), a specific day of the month of March and a page on which each one could project a work.34

Based on the form of the calendar is the artwork 365 Day Project by the Lithuanian-American filmmaker Jonas Mekas, who recorded the 365 days of the year 2007 through short videos.35

The power of the calendrical grid is evident also in the catalogue of an exhibition devoted to Duchamp held in Venice in 1993. The exhibition’s title, Effemeridi, made an allusion to the daily collections of events and notable facts.36 The whole life of the French artist is organized in 366 chapters that can be consulted not in chronological order but by our browsing a virtual year that gathers—day by day—all the years lived by Duchamp. In addition, the life of Hanne Darboven, the German artist who worked on time, numbers, and intervals, has been presented in the form of a calendar summarizing her experience, poetics, and contacts in a grid of 31 slots.

Walls of calendars and installations with crumpled calendar sheets can be found in Ignasi Aballi’s artistic practice.37 The spiral made of 366 candles by the artist Spencer Finch in 2009 for Emily Dickinson can be also considered a sort of calendar: each candle exhausts itself in 24 hours and is linked chromatically to one of the 366 poems the American poet wrote during the year 1862.

One of the most impressive artworks based on the calendar, featured in the Roman exhibition, is Daniela Comani’s It Was Me. Diary 1900-1999, which condenses some of the historic events of the twentieth century in a virtual leap year of 366 days: all the events are narrated in the first person female. (Figure 8)

figure 8
figure 8Visitor examining Daniela Comani, It was me. Diary 1900-1999, digital print on vinyl fabric.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

Courtesy the artist.

8 Twenty-Four

“This took a good 24 hours” writes the Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska in Distraction (2005) about a common day. She regrets to have misbehaved in the cosmos, allowing that day to flow without questions and surprise.

In the subheading of the macro exhibition, the 24 hours are recalled, a modulus present in many artistic creations. One can find it in the title of the movie Tutta la vita in 24 ore by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia (1943); in the exhibition 24 ore su 24 held at “L’Attico” gallery by Sargentini (1975); in the installation 24 Hour Psycho (1993) by Douglas Gordon; in the masterpiece by Christian Marclay, The Clock (2010); and in the 24 Hours Museum designed by Francesco Vezzoli in 2012. Twenty-four is an eloquent cypher.

 ‘What a diff’rence a day makes / Twenty-four little hours,” Dinah Washington sang in 1959. The following year the famous sculpture by Anthony Caro, Twenty-Four Hours appears, as Laura Leuzzi notes in her brief anthology of artworks that refer to 24 hours, both in their title and subject, or in their duration, published in the catalogue of the macro exhibition. (Figure 9)

figure 9
figure 9Maria Sebregondi, Elogio dell’orologio. Orologio ad haiku—Praise of clock. Haiku clock, 1987, lithograph.

Citation: KronoScope 17, 2 (2017) ; 10.1163/15685241-12341384

When, in 2010, Ridley Scott produced Life in a Day, a user-generated movie composed by an assemblage of thousands of videos shot by participants on 24 July (24/7) along the 24 time zones of the Earth, the director Kevin MacDonald underlined the surprise provoked by the consideration that everything “was more or less all happening at the same time—all over the planet”.38

In the 90s, the consciousness of simultaneity provoked by the web led to the invention of Swatch Internet Time, a new way of dividing the solar day not into hours and minutes, but into 1000 parts called “beats.” In this visionary project, the time zones would have been abolished. This did not happen. Time zones still function, and artists interested in the transition of time along meridians go on exploring it and working on the political and poetical aspects of the time-zone history. Such is the case of William Kentridge with his The Refusal of Time (2012), a complex multimedia show with different rhythms, loop scenes, and different synchronicities to evoke the resistance to standardized time.

Danish artist Olafur Eliasson follows the route of daily light along the time zones, with 24 neon lights of his installation Daylight Map (2005). And the Scottish artist Katie Paterson draws comparisons between the lengths of the days on the solar system planets in her TimepiecesSolar System, 2014.

As human beings of our times, new subjects enter the scene. We constantly leave digital traces in our lives, whether we realize it or not, whether we want it or not. A number of subjects constantly keep track of these bits of ourselves, constructing multiple versions of narrations of our lives, each with different focuses, parameters, points of view, perspectives. These are, to all effects, biographies. Even more, they are auto-biographies. Auto, because they are automatically collected. And Auto, because we produce and express these bits of memory ourselves, in our daily lives, through our ordinary performances, like entries in an ubiquitous diary.39

This statement describes one of the most urgent work in the exhibition, Ghost Writer by aos (Art is Open Source by Salvatore Iaconesi and Oriana Persico). It is an “algorithmic autobiography”, the new form diaries can take in the age of networking, of big data, of apparent quick obsolescence, and of effective long duration of everyday digital traces, in the age of 24/7 connectivity.

Considering artworks through the lens of dates, we may find new connections, curiosities, attractions, and entanglements emerging. When we consider dates and days as artistic forms, a dimension is added to the presumed time flow: every day is a hologram, an entirety that can be endlessly subdivided, containing all that artists set down on them, including the multifaceted perception of time.

References

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  • De Jongh, Karlyn. Time in the Art of Roman Opalka, Tatsuo Miyajima and Rene Rietmeyer. KronoScope. Journal for the Study of Time 10 : 1-2 (2010): 88-117.

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  • Fraser, Julius T. Time, the Familiar Stranger. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.

  • Hartigan, L. Roscoe, R. Vine, R. Lehrman, eds., Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay Eterniday. London: Thames and Hudson 2003.

  • Jedlowsky, Paolo. Un giorno dopo l’altro, La vita quotidiana fra esperienza e routine. Bologna: Il Mulino 2005.

  • Johnstone, Stephen, ed. The Everyday. London-Cambridge, MA: Whitechapel/MIT Press, 2008.

  • Lee, Pamela L. Chronophobia. On Time in the Art of the 1960s. 2004; Cambridge, MA, London, UK: MIT Press, 2006.

  • Leuzzi, Laura, Overnight. 24 Hours in contemporary art: http://www.arshake.com/en/dalloggi-al-domani-24-ore-nellarte-contemporanea-2/.

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  • Lippard, Lucy. Six Years: The Dematerialization of Art Object from 1966 to 1972. New York: Praeger 1973.

  • Lombardi, Sandro. Alighiero e Boetti, Dall’oggi al domani. Brescia: Edizioni L’Obliquo, 1988.

  • Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy: the Technologizing of the Word. London, New York: Routledge, 1988.

  • Perec, Georges. Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien. 1975; Paris: Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1982.

  • Perniola, Mario. L’avventura situazionista. Storia critica dell’ultima avanguardia del XX secolo. Milano: Mimesis, 2013.

  • Rorimer, Anne. “The Date Pantings of On Kawara.” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 17: 2 (1991): 120-137, 179-180.

  • Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia. Tales of Music and the Brain. New York: Knopf, 2007.

  • Simic, Charles. Dime-store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell. New York: The New York Review of Books, 1992.

Exhibition Catalogues

  • 2000. Boetti 1965-1994, Milan: Mazzotta 1996 . Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, shown at Galleria civica d’arte moderna e contemporanea, Turin, 10 May 10-1 September1996; Musée d’art moderne, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France, September 1996-January 1997; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, February-March 1997.

  • Tempus fugit. Time flies. Edited by Jan Schall. Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 15 October-31 December 2000.

  • Le Temps vite. Edited by François Nemer, Sara Renaud, Daniel Soutif, et al. Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, shown at Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 13 January-17 April 2000; Barcellona, Centre de Cultura contemporania, 28 November 2000-25 February 2001; Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 28 July-23 October.

  • Dall’oggi al domani. 24 ore nell’arte contemporanea. Edited by Antonella Sbrilli and Maria Grazia Tolomeo. Rome Manfredi Edizione. Published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name, shown at, Museo Macro, 29 April-2 October 2016.

  • Every Day: 11th Biennale of Sidney. Edited by Jonathan Watkins. Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1998. Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 18 September-8 November 1998.

1

Jonathan Crary, 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep (London-New York: Verso, 2013), 29.

2

Achille Bonito Oliva, ed., Enciclopedia delle arti contemporanee. I portatori del tempo, i: Il tempo comico; ii: Il tempo interiore; iii: Il tempo inclinato (Milano: Electa, 2010-2015).

3

The list is reported in the catalogue of the exhibition Tempus fugit. Time flies, ed. by Jan Schall, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, 15 October-31 December 2000.

4

Le Temps, vite, Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, ed. by Daniel Soutif, 13 January-17 April 2000; Barcellona, Centre de Cultura contemporania, 28 November 2000-25 February 2001; Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 28 July-23 October 2000.

5

Dall’oggi al domani. 24 ore nell’arte contemporanea, eds. Antonella Sbrilli and Maria Grazia Tolomeo, Rome, Museo Macro, 29 April-2 October 2016; catalogue Manfredi Edizioni with introductory texts by the curators, a conversation with Achille Bonito Oliva, an original short story by Mario Perniola, and contributions by Michele Brescia, Daniela Collu, Ada De Pirro, Costantino D’Orazio, Laura Leuzzi, Jo Alyson Parker, Caterina Marrone and Michela Santoro.

6

A multimedia, interactive and immersive version of the Macro exhibition can be explored in Bolzano, Centro Trevi, Il cerchio dell’arte: Tempo e Denaro (The Art Circle: Time and Money) from May 2016 to May 2017, eds. Stella Bottai and Antonella Sbrilli.

7

diconodioggi.it, funded in 2013 by Antonella Sbrilli and Daniela Collu as a development of the database of literary quotations on time, collected since 1994 and published as Il gioco dei giorni narrati, Firenze: Giunti, 1994.

8

Laura Leuzzi, Overnight. 24 Hours in contemporary art: http://www.arshake.com/en/dalloggi-al-domani-24-ore-nellarte-contemporanea-2/.

9

Lucy Lippard, Six Years: The Dematerialization of Art Object from 1966 to 1972 (New York: Praeger 1973).

10

Alighiero e Boetti, Dall’oggi al domani is the title of a book by Sandro Lombardi (Brescia: Edizioni L’Obliquo, 1988); the same statement is the title of the exhibition curated by Luca Beatrice, Carlina Galleria d’Arte, Torino, 23 October-4 December 2004.

11

Stefano Bartezzaghi, Scrittori giocatori (Torino: Einaudi 2010, 279-293).

12

Stefano Chiodi, Scolpire il tempo. Cronologia, durata, memoria nelle arti contemporanee, in Enciclopedia delle arti contemporanee. I portatori del tempo, vol. ii, ed. A. Bonito Oliva (Milano: Mondadori Electa, 2013), 231.

14

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia. Tales of Music and the Brain (New York: Knopf 2007); on calendars and memory systems, see Lina Bolzoni, La stanza della memoria (Torino: Einaudi, 1995).

15

Alighiero Boetti, interviewed by Mirella Bandini, 1972, in the exhibition catalogue Boetti 1965-1994 (Milano: Mazzotta 1996), 200.

16

Willem de Kooning, “What Abstract Art Means to Me,” http://www.dekooning.org/documentation/words/what-abstract-art-means-to-me#.

17

Pamela M. Lee, Chronophobia. On Time in the Art of the 1960s (2004; Cambridge: Mit Press, Cambridge, 2006).

18

Anne Rorimer, The Date Pantings of On Kawara, “Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies”, 17, 2, 1991, 120-137; 179-80. I would like to thank Raphaëlle Costa de Beauregard for discussing this aspect of On Kawara’s art, connecting it to the tragedy of Hiroshima, during the Sixteenth Triennial isst Conference in Edinburgh.

19

Julius Thomas Fraser, Time the Familiar Stranger (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987. The book has been translated into Italian as Il tempo: una presenza sconosciuta, (Milano: Feltrinelli, 1991).

20

Almanach illustré du Père Ubu (XX Siècle), 1 Janvier 1901. On www.patafisica.it, real time updates of the perpetual patafisical calendar can be consulted.

21

Paolo Jedlowsky, Un giorno dopo l’altro, La vita quotidiana fra esperienza e routine (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2005).

22

Charles Simic, Dime-store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell (New York: The New York Review of Books, 1992); see also L. Roscoe Hartigan, R. Vine, R. Lehrman, eds., Joseph Cornell. Shadoplay Eterniday (London: Thames and Hudson 2003).

23

Monica Centanni, Passione del presente (2016); another version of this essay is published with the title Il cambio di paradigma e di percezione del tempo delle grammatiche classiche, in Il senso ritrovato, eds E. Laszlo and P. M. Biava (Milano, 2012).

25

Mario Perniola, L’avventura situazionista. Storia critica dell’ultima avanguardia del XX secolo (Milano: Mimesis, 2013), 65.

26

Ibid., 124.

27

For a selection of texts about the everyday in art see Stephen Johnstone, ed., The Everyday (London and Cambridge, ma: Whitechapel/mit Press, 2008).

28

Georges Perec, Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien (1975; Paris: Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1982).

30

Jonathan Watkins, ed., Every Day, 11th Biennale of Sidney, 18 September-8 November 1998.

31

Claire Bishop, Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship (London-New York: Verso Books 2012), 91.

32

Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy: the Technologizing of the Word (London; New York: Routledge), 1988, 74.

33

Karlyn De Jongh, “Time in the Art of Roman Opalka, Tatsuo Miyajima and Rene Rietmeyer,” KronoScope: Journal for the Study of Time, 10: 1–2 (2010): 88-117.

36

Jennifer Gouch-Cooper, Jacques Caumont, Effemeridi su e intorno a Marcel Duchamp e Rrose Sélavy 1887-1968, exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, Venice, 4 April-18 July 1993 (Milano: Bompiani 1993).

37

0-24 h Ignasi Aballí, catalogue of the exhibition at the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 19 October 2005–8 January 2006, Museu de Art Contemporanea de Serralves, Porto, 27 January 2006–23 April 2006, and Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, 24 May 2006–16 July 2006

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  • Bartezzaghi, Stefano. “‘Non parto non resto’: Alighiero Boetti.” In Scrittori giocatori. Torino: Einaudi 2010.

  • Bishop, Claire. Artificial Hells: Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London-New York: Verso Books, 2012.

  • Bolzoni, Lina, La stanza della memoria. Torino: Einaudi, 1995.

  • Bonito Oliva, Achille ed., Enciclopedia delle arti contemporanee. I portatori del tempo, 3 voll. (I: Il tempo comico; II: Il tempo interiore; III: Il tempo inclinato). Milano: Electa, 2010-2015.

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  • Centanni, Monica, “Passione del presente” (2016); another version of this essay is published with the title “Il cambio di paradigma e di percezione del tempo delle grammatiche classiche.” In Il senso ritrovato, edited by E. Laszlo and P. M. Biava. Milano: Springer 2012.

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    • Export Citation
  • Chiodi, Stefano. “Scolpire il tempo. Cronologia, durata, memoria nelle arti contemporanee. In Enciclopedia delle arti contemporanee. I portatori del tempo, vol. II, edited by A. Bonito Oliva, 216-244. Milano: Mondadori Electa, 2013

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  • Crary, Jonathan. 24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep. London-New York: Verso, 2013.

  • De Jongh, Karlyn. Time in the Art of Roman Opalka, Tatsuo Miyajima and Rene Rietmeyer. KronoScope. Journal for the Study of Time 10 : 1-2 (2010): 88-117.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fraser, Julius T. Time, the Familiar Stranger. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987.

  • Hartigan, L. Roscoe, R. Vine, R. Lehrman, eds., Joseph Cornell: Shadowplay Eterniday. London: Thames and Hudson 2003.

  • Jedlowsky, Paolo. Un giorno dopo l’altro, La vita quotidiana fra esperienza e routine. Bologna: Il Mulino 2005.

  • Johnstone, Stephen, ed. The Everyday. London-Cambridge, MA: Whitechapel/MIT Press, 2008.

  • Lee, Pamela L. Chronophobia. On Time in the Art of the 1960s. 2004; Cambridge, MA, London, UK: MIT Press, 2006.

  • Leuzzi, Laura, Overnight. 24 Hours in contemporary art: http://www.arshake.com/en/dalloggi-al-domani-24-ore-nellarte-contemporanea-2/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Lippard, Lucy. Six Years: The Dematerialization of Art Object from 1966 to 1972. New York: Praeger 1973.

  • Lombardi, Sandro. Alighiero e Boetti, Dall’oggi al domani. Brescia: Edizioni L’Obliquo, 1988.

  • Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy: the Technologizing of the Word. London, New York: Routledge, 1988.

  • Perec, Georges. Tentative d’épuisement d’un lieu parisien. 1975; Paris: Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1982.

  • Perniola, Mario. L’avventura situazionista. Storia critica dell’ultima avanguardia del XX secolo. Milano: Mimesis, 2013.

  • Rorimer, Anne. “The Date Pantings of On Kawara.” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 17: 2 (1991): 120-137, 179-180.

  • Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia. Tales of Music and the Brain. New York: Knopf, 2007.

  • Simic, Charles. Dime-store Alchemy: The Art of Joseph Cornell. New York: The New York Review of Books, 1992.

  • 2000. Boetti 1965-1994, Milan: Mazzotta 1996 . Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, shown at Galleria civica d’arte moderna e contemporanea, Turin, 10 May 10-1 September1996; Musée d’art moderne, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France, September 1996-January 1997; Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, February-March 1997.

  • Tempus fugit. Time flies. Edited by Jan Schall. Kansas City: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 15 October-31 December 2000.

  • Le Temps vite. Edited by François Nemer, Sara Renaud, Daniel Soutif, et al. Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, shown at Paris, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, 13 January-17 April 2000; Barcellona, Centre de Cultura contemporania, 28 November 2000-25 February 2001; Rome, Palazzo delle Esposizioni, 28 July-23 October.

  • Dall’oggi al domani. 24 ore nell’arte contemporanea. Edited by Antonella Sbrilli and Maria Grazia Tolomeo. Rome Manfredi Edizione. Published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name, shown at, Museo Macro, 29 April-2 October 2016.

  • Every Day: 11th Biennale of Sidney. Edited by Jonathan Watkins. Sydney: Museum of Contemporary Art, 1998. Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name, shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 18 September-8 November 1998.

  • View in gallery
    Index of the catalogue of the exhibition, 2016.
  • View in gallery
    Claude Closky, Trois mille quatre cent quinze vendredis 13 / 3415 Friday 13, 1992, book.
  • View in gallery
    Manfredi Beninati, “I have never understood the meaning of ‘time expansion’. Have you? Perhaps it means thinking. This is the way the letter began….” Site-specific installation, 2016, Rome, Macro Museum.
  • View in gallery
    Mario Ceroli, Hourglass, 1966, wood, metal net. Rome. Artist’s collection.
  • View in gallery
    A visitor of the exhibition examining Alighiero Boetti, Dall’oggi al domani / From Today till Tomorrow, 1988.
  • View in gallery
    Brochure of the exhibition with the reproduction of Maurizio Cattelan, Daily Grammar, 1989, Offset lithograph on letterpress-printed board and paper.
  • View in gallery
    Federico Pietrella, Since February 24th to March 4th 2015 (Viktoria-Luise-Platz), rubber date stamps on canvas.
  • View in gallery
    Visitor examining Daniela Comani, It was me. Diary 1900-1999, digital print on vinyl fabric.
  • View in gallery
    Maria Sebregondi, Elogio dell’orologio. Orologio ad haiku—Praise of clock. Haiku clock, 1987, lithograph.

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