A Response to An escapist exhibition firmly about escapism by Philip Kennicott
Is it not difficult to see with eyes closed or clearly think when the mind is looking for “tricks, illusions, and amusement rides?” It is equally difficult to define time (birth, growth, death, and rebirth), design, or its art as “merely dates, time lost [and] meaningless time.” Are each of us not ‘living’ Fragments in time and space? Like the questions of life, answers behind an exhibition’s conceptual design are not freely given to take. One must give many moments to ask questions, purge, and analyze details such as: structural design, the exhibition’s concept, its integration with art works displayed, and reoccurring themes in relation to the overall composition.
This exhibition is intended to be viewed in accordance to the natural cycles of life simultaneously with the surrounding natural world and universe, which is continuing and infinite. Douglas Gordon's video installment "Play Dead; Real Time," 2003 displays one living elephant in white open space. The elephant is filmed in rotation while it stands, breaths, and plays dead, and then comes back to life. There is a beginning and an end to the cycles of life in the ways we perceive time but life continues, changes and evolves—it is timeless.
In order to achieve this concept in a composition of multiple works, there must be a repetitive infused meaning between the space, place, visual design and symbolic message presented. The concept of Fragments in Time and Space as a ‘timeless modernity’ is in perfect union with the Hirshhorn Museum’s circulatory architectural design reiterating ‘constant’, ‘cyclical’, and ‘infinite’. Ed Ruscha’s “Five Past Eleven” begins the exhibit with a partially shown, sleek man-made time-piece urging all to break time in the way individuals perceive it. Only then can one understand the ‘longevity’ of the surrounding natural world. In design, as time continues, it is pertinent that the development of a piece of artwork continues to evolve. This exhibition proves the objective of creating a “timeless” design.
The goal of the designer in collaboration with the client (artist) is to maintain a relationship with the preexisting structure (Hirshhorn) and enclose it with a refreshed movement of space based on a composed context, design, and meaning in each piece. The structural design of the Hirshhorn features: original spaces, walls, pathways, and an outer and inner circle. In creating or designing an exhibition around the structural design, the meaning must be a direct reflection of the space and place its set in.
The exhibition’s concept literally rotates in a circulation of curves interchanging with stops and pauses in forced clock-wise continuation just as the earth rotates, sun and moon rise, and the reason time is perceived like so.
In this unique design, the outer circle is closed to the outside world—dark and windowless.
Meanwhile, dark spaces are accentuated by animated installations, films and videos that are vibrant and full of natural life and elements; timeless and continuing through perceived time. In the natural world, some elements were here at the beginning and will be here at the end; they will fight through the billions of cycles of time. Hiroshki Sugimoto’s thirteen archetypal seascapes powerfully exemplify the ocean and its adjoining horizon in its infinite mystery, with no beginning and no end.
The inner circle is opposite the outer circle yet intertwined as one. The real art is the exposure of light and the living world through large windows which is only accentuated by natural elements harnessed by man in the form of sculpture like the “Kantian box of space” and water. This opposite and interlocking rotation between the two circles engages fusion between the inside and outside elements seamlessly to create a composition of “timeless” works.
In doing this, pieces of artwork and a site are separately renewed given the opportunity to evolve through constant development and perspective in association with inevitable change in time, place, and culture creating an Exhibition of ‘Timeless Modernity’.