"Time Is Free". (New York: Reviews)

By Dailey, Meghan | Artforum International, January 2003 | Go to article overview

"Time Is Free". (New York: Reviews)


Dailey, Meghan, Artforum International


APEXART

Boredom used to be a sin, attendant cousin of sloth, a welcome state for the devil to seduce weak minds. We know what it did to Emma Bovary. For most people now, boredom is instead a name given to a lamentable, persistent discontent. But boredom would also seem like a luxury today, having been displaced by the new collective condition of mass anxiety. In order to avoid guilt, dread, and other unpleasant thoughts, we prefer our time to be organized, eschewing purely contemplative hours spent doing nothing in favor of constant activity. So what about that state of just being, and where does artistic creativity reside in this cultural scenario? According to Jan Hoet, the director of SMAK in Ghent and a guest curator of "Time Is Free," the artist is located in "an autonomous time zone," somewhere between work and leisure. Collaborating with Ann Demeester, he presented seven artists whose work questions and/or functions within that indeterminate, potentially boring, infraspace.

Unavoidable boredom is boredom condoned, such as that experienced while waiting for a bus or plane. Scottish artist Kenny Macleod's two-channel video Breaking Up, 2001, focused on such banalities, showing images of airplanes landing, a very ugly hotel room, and a suit of clothes, to a voice-over narrative of a business traveler's mundane concerns. His two video monitors were installed high on a wall, creating a difficult viewing angle that underscored the generally tedious nature of the piece and of time spent waiting in airports. The sense of life as flat and dry informed Manfred Pernice's installation Gartenfest, 2001, in which the elements of a shabby party setting--barbecue grill, outdoor umbrella, modular seats--could be arranged by the artist in any configuration, because, as the exhibition brochure states, the arbitrary mood is the same regardless. …

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