At a moment in humanity when time has never been so difficult to find and keep, Polish artist Alicja Kwade (1979) invites us to pass through, listen to and observe space-time in an exhibition at the Blueproject Foundation in Barcelona.
Alicja Kwade combines the mind of a precision engineer with that of an artist. She is obsessed with time: she wants to measure it, capture it and turn it into a physical object. It is all too common to find ourselves, at one moment or another, uttering the words “I haven’t got time”, or stressing out thinking about how many more hours a day should have to make us feel better. If you are not on a tropical island or on a mountain top, it is hard not to become an addict to the most slippery substance in the world: time – which slips through our hands and robs every last second from us.
This Polish artist, who has recently exhibited in the Hayward Gallery in London and in the last Venice Biennale, seems to want to trap time and explore space, and even go beyond it. Time, space and astronomy make up the triad of her main interests. She works with sculptures and installations using a variety of materials in a dialogue between light and heavyweight objects, playing with sound and light.
a kind of symphony made up of the sound of the artist’s heartbeat and the ticking of a clock
In her first solo exhibition in Spain, Glances, Kwade has made an immense site-specific sound contraption called Clout-Count, in the middle of Il Salotto in the Blueproject Foundation. The circular installation simulates a huge 24-hour clock. Each of the hours in the circle corresponds to a speaker which emits a kind of symphony made up of the sound of the artist’s heartbeat and the ticking of a clock. The hourly sequence combines the organic with the mechanical.
Kwade’s obsession with time is evident in her series of drawings and collage, In-Between, where the position of tiny clock hands marks the intensity of the days’ activity, in a kind of artist’s diary. These are delicate drawings with a highly emotional content.
In silence and with a will to experiment is probably the best way to enjoy Alicja Kwade’s exhibition. If viewers feel obliged to listed to the sound piece whether they like it or not in the case of the three sculptures of Between Glances, which are also adapted to be site specific in the Blueproject hall, they can also choose to remain completely still to contemplate them or walk around or into them. The three pieces are made up of panels in the form of windscreens, some made of glass and others of mirrors and a third kind which is empty. Lightbulbs, some of which are on and others off, help to create curious reflections between the light and the figure of the viewer, like unexpected divisions. Nothing here is stable. Everything is fragile. Like space-time might be. Like the human condition itself might be.
The exhibition Glances, by Alicja Kwade, can be seen at the Blueproject Foundation in Barcelona until 21 April 2019.