CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — “Time / Image,” one of Krannert Art Museum’s spring exhibitions opening on Jan. 28, explores how time is perceived through contemporary art.
The 11 artists featured in the exhibition look at time in ways other than as a linear progression. They ask questions about our understandings of historical narrative, how we see images of the past and present in relation to each other, and how time is represented and manipulated in various forms of artistic media.
Their work shows different senses of temporal possibility, said Amy Powell, curator of the exhibition and the museum’s curator of modern and contemporary art.
The exhibition takes its name from a book by French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who wrote about the change in the perception of time brought on by cinema and techniques such as editing and montage.
Every work in “Time / Image” is cinematic in some way.
Krannert Art Museum’s spring exhibition, “Time / Image,” includes artist Lorraine O’Grady’s series of diptychs featuring images of Charles Baudelaire and Michael Jackson, side by side in similar poses, titled “The First and Last of the Modernists, Diptych 2 Green (Charles and Michael)” (2010).
Courtesy of Lorraine OGrady and Alexander Gray Associates, New York
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“Film is a temporal medium – it unfolds in time, not just in terms of narrative but also in terms of technology. The selection of moving image work (involves) telling time differently, and disrupting how we tell historical narratives,” Powell said.
For example, a 3-minute video by Raqs Media Collective, a group of filmmakers based in India, shows a 1911 still photograph of British surveyors working in their office. In the video, titled “An Afternoon Unregistered on the Richter Scale” (2011), the artists introduced movement to the photograph, so a ceiling fan starts to turn, a passerby walks outside the window, and the color and light in the image change as the men sit unmoving at their desks.
The idea, Powell said, is that even a historical photograph can still contain elements of fantasy.
The exhibition includes “Fantôme Afrique” (2005), a 17-minute, three-screen film installation from British artist Isaac Julien that combines images of urban and rural spaces in West Africa with archival footage, “where the ghosts of history linger amid the realities of the day.”
Lorraine O’Grady has a series of diptychs featuring images of Charles Baudelaire and Michael Jackson, side by side in similar poses, titled “The First and Last of the Modernists” (2010). Looking at the images, made with similar tones, “it’s not clear who came first,” Powell said.
A 2009 installation by Matthew Buckingham, “1720,” shows the text “1720,” written in a typeface invented in 1720. The soundtrack is a Bach sonata composed in 1720 that lasts for 2:30 minutes – the same duration that it takes for the 100-foot piece of film to go through the projector.
“There are lots of temporal plays. The artist is playing with concepts of history and medium,” Powell said.
Other pieces include “Screen II (edit)” (2015), a work by Siemon Allen of VHS tape cut up and woven around a steel frame, and “Imagine to be here, right now (Comrades of Time)” (2011), a series of photographs by Andrea Geyer based on her research of influential women thinkers in Germany’s Weimar Republic.
Raqs Media Collective will be on campus as George A. Miller Visiting Artists during the week of Feb. 22. The artists will give an artist talk titled “Untimely Calendar” at the museum at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 24. They will stage a performance, “Time Symposium,” at 5 p.m. Feb. 25. “Time Symposium” will gather 12 participants – one of the Raqs Media Collective artists and 11 faculty from a variety of university departments – to drink wine and discuss the history and philosophy of time. Krannert Art Museum will be the first U.S. art museum to stage “Time Symposium.”
Krannert Art Museum will also partner with The Art Theater Co-op to show films on March 7 and March 14 related to the theme of the exhibition.
Featured artist Andrea Geyer will visit KAM to give an artist talk at 5:30 p.m. April 5.
“Time / Image” debuted last fall at Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston. The exhibition will be on view at Krannert Art Museum through April 23 and is sponsored in part by Frances P. Rohlen Visiting Artists Fund/College of Fine and Applied Arts, the School of Art and Design Visitors Fund, the Jerrold Ziff Distinguished Lecture on Modern Art, and Krannert Art Museum.