Exhibitions happen in Real Time for the spectator but it’s they who determine what that consists of. How long? How slow? The quantity of the experience. To complicate matters, though, we’ve introduced little pockets of predetermined Time into the slowness of objects in the form of moving images and sound, starting and stopping when they feel like it in that irritating way they do. Apparently the longest ever film is called Logisticsand was made in 2012 by Erika Magnusson and Daniel Andersson in Sweden and is 857 hours (35 days and 17 hours) long. It follows the manufacture of some electronic device in Real Time.
Some years ago I went to see Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev (3 hours 25 Minutes) in the old Renoir Cinema in Bloomsbury – shortly before it was renovated. I was the only viewer; this was fortunate because it took me quite a few tries to find a seat that wasn’t worn out to the point of actively causing me damage. Once I was installed, though, the miracle of Art happened and I was completely in the Moment of the film, its time becoming mine. As the only person in the room I also had the luxury of weeping openly and profusely at the end of the episode of the Bellfounder’s Son (watch the film, how can anyone not be moved?).
It’s very rare that curators of Moving Image art bother to provide somewhere comfortable to sit while watching the work on offer, even, on occasions, screening long works in rooms completely devoid of anywhere to sit. In contrast museums of historical art often have comfortable seating. I frequently walk on Hampstead Heath and can drop in to Kenwood House and sit for as long as I want in front of Vermeer’s Guitar Player. I might be waiting for another miracle – for her to look out at me from the canvas and play her guitar. On one occasion I wept there too…
Sitting with Art doesn’t have to involve weeping- it can involve laughing or being angry or scared. It can also be an occasion not to feel anything because feelings can be very overrated these days. Whatever it involves, though, it is important to be aware that in aligning your time with the art’s time you are not only becoming a part of it but completing it.
Sit with it and it sits with you.
Simon Lewandowski, Visiting Research Fellow
School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies