Gallerist Jan Mot and Artist David Lamelas Recreate Iconic 1970 Piece “Time” via Global Livestream

Aug 24

Gallerist Jan Mot and Artist David Lamelas Recreate Iconic 1970 Piece “Time” via Global Livestream

“One of the most ambitious events” at Art Basel’s recent summer edition was the staging by one of the exhibitors, Belgian gallerist Jan Mot, of a performance of Time by the Argentine artist David Lamelas originally performed in 1970 and “revisited now in view of the Covid-19 crisis”, said Art Basel Global Director Marc Spiegler in a highlights video for the virtual fair.

Due to the increasing marketing work we are doing for virtual exhibitions and events, we wanted to learn more about this online performance by Lamelas, widely recognized as a pioneer of conceptual art, so we spoke with him at his home in Buenos Aires.

Lamelas has been spending his socially distanced days between his home and studio in Buenos Aires.  His own experiences during this pandemic are reflected in the recreation of a new version of Time (2020) which seeks to unite people by showing that we are sharing a common experience across time and space in dealing with Covid-19.

While Time has been performed at the Tate Modern in London, MOMA in NYC and other venues, Lamelas advised this was the first time it was experienced virtually at an art fair.  The world premiere of Time (2020) was staged virtually by the gallery and artist via YouTube a few months earlier.

Time is “a performance that sets out to capture the essence of time” according to a description of the artwork on the website for the Tate, which purchased the piece for its collection. 

It involves a group of participants standing in a line.  The first person says the exact time out loud to the person standing next to them.  The next person waits 60 seconds and does the same.  The process continues until the end of the line.  

Since this is a physical performance piece not a static artwork, the virtual delivery involved much more than simply uploading a piece of artwork to a virtual platform.  It required a reimagining of the piece.

Lamelas recreated Time (2020) for presentation in the gallery’s Online Viewing Room at Art Basel with updates for today’s unique times by leveraging technology. 

The artist and gallery arranged 20 people in Paris, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires and other cities around the world connected via video conferencing platform, Zoom, in lieu of the traditional line of people standing together in the same physical space. 

Rather than seeing the entire line at the same time, the viewer only sees one participant at a time.  Once that participant says the time, the focus switches to the next person. 

In this new Time (2020) version, time is also passed on to the audience by the last person in the performance giving spectators the opportunity to participate by continuing the “virtual line” wherever they are.

While the artwork remained true to its original concept 50 years ago by Lamelas, this live streamed performance offered viewers a new way to experience it.  See video of the debut live stream of Time (2020).

Lamelas said his biggest takeaway from the new virtual format of Time was the “emotional connection”. 

While this may seem surprising because people are on a screen and not physically in front of you, he points out that as you look at the screen, that one individual becomes the sole focus of your attention and there is an intimate feeling as you and them experience time together. 

Image: Copyright David Lamelas and Jan Mot

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