Our perception of the world is fundamentally influenced by our experience of time passing. With us into the present we bring the past, which, in the guise of our memories, forms a subjective personal history. Strictly speaking it is bygone, has slipped through our fingers, yet it exists in a fragmentary way in the things that we still hang on to: In inherited objects, a notebook from our childhood, or even melodies we haven’t heard in a long while. In a way, art counteracts time’s erasure of memories. Most of the exhibits in this gallery room were here long before us, and will exist long after us.
Scientists have come to the conclusion that the origin of the universe, what we call the Big Bang, lasted for only an unimaginable tiny fraction of a second. In that infinitesimal little moment in time 13,8 billion years ago, the properties of physics as we know them arose. That was when time actually began. But what is time? “As long as no one asks me, I know what it is”, the philosopher Augustine aptly said over 1600 years ago. It is still difficult to explain today. In addition, time is elastic. Einstein’s theory of relativity of 1915 put an end to the concept of absolute time: There is no universal contemporariness. Time is dependent on speed and distance; anyone who is in motion carries with them their own time.
Take your TIME does not pretend to be an exhaustive exhibition about the phenomenon of time. It is an experimental composition, in which the various parts mutually reveal new aspects of each other, via similarities, frictions and unexpected shifts. Older works do not represent a chronological starting point, but are arranged in a contemporaneous relationship with newer works. The works are intended to amplify, at times even provoke each other. They are presented physically closer to each other than is customary; the historical periods are compressed, as it were. The exhibition encompasses narratives about time that can be read in countless ways.
Inherent in the title Take your TIME is an invitation to allow yourself a little break from the pace of everyday life, and to be aware of your own role in situations you choose to enter into. If you are among those who have recently had your usual tempo involuntarily altered, you may be left with a renewed awareness of the duration of an hour. Repetition is often perceived more acutely when the range of activities is limited. Time can fly, but it can also creep along slowly. All the while one strives to define what time actually is, in a scientific sense, it nonetheless exists in your being and consciousness – in a tempo that is both relative and personal – throughout your life.
Is it we who exist in time, or time that exists in us? With a poet’s sensitivity, the Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli formulates the idea that time actually is us: We are this space, this clearing opened by the traces of memory inside the connections between our neurons. We are memory. We are nostalgia. We are longing for a future that will not come. The clearing that is opened up in this way, by memory and by anticipation, is time: a source of anguish sometimes, but in the end a tremendous gift.
Will you accept it?
By curator Solveig Lønmo/Translated by Francesca Nichols