Making Time Manifest
When I go to meet Bridget Kennedy to chat about participating in her A Year of Time 1:30 project I’m running early (as always) and she arrives right on time; an appropriate start, it seems to me.
I’ve just finished reading (for the second time) Kate Atkinson’s 2004 novel Case Histories. As Kennedy attempts to explain to me the complicated mathematics which
Michelle had been setting her alarm five minutes earlier every day. This morning it had gone off at twenty past five. Tomorrow it would be quarter past. She could see that she would have to call a halt eventually or she would be getting up before she went to bed. But not yet… She needed more time, there simply wasn’t enough of it. This was the only way she could think of making it. Not making it exactly, if you could make it from scratch––brand-new time––that would be fantastic. Michelle tried to think of ways you might manufacture something so abstract, but all she could think of were examples from her own small-scale domestic economy––knitting and sewing and baking. Imagine if you could knit time. Christ, her needles would be clacking day and night. And what an advantage she would have over her friends, none of whom knew how to knit (or bake or sew)… And anyway, where would she ever find the time to make time? There was no time. That was the whole point. What if she stopped going to bed altogether? She could shut herself away like someone in a fairy tale, in a room at the top of a tower and spin time like gold. She could stay awake until there was so much time, lying in golden hanks at her feet, that it would last her the rest of her life and she would never run out again. The idea of living in a tower, cut off from everyone and everything, sounded like heaven to Michelle.
Although fictional Michelle is a woman on the verge, and the real artist in front of me clearly is not, this passage resonates with Kennedy’s A Year of Time 1:30 project. It highlights the positive generative nature of traditional
These days, even those of us who don’t understand Einstein’s theory of relativity (and frankly who does, I mean really?) have probably watched enough science docos or sci-fi epics to know (without really comprehending) that time isn’t matter fixed in precise unchanging increments. It is,
Yet back in the real world, outside the rarefied field of theoretical physics, we continue to talk about time as if it was a quantifiable physical substance. We say things like ‘Time heals all wounds,’ an aphorism that pictures time as some kind of medicinal unguent, or ‘Time flies,’ a metaphor in which time shoots off rapidly like an arrow, in just one direction. Or, perhaps
In her A Year of Time 1:30 project Kennedy has made an entire year of time manifest as 60 finely crafted vessels stitched together primarily from textiles. She has then traded each one of these diminutive baskets for either
In being willing to do a straight minute for minute swap, Kennedy draws our attention to how unusual this equity is in our hierarchical culture. Normally there are wild discrepancies in the values assigned to labour: doctors, lawyers, plumbers and CEOs can charge amounts per hour that cleaners, nurses, teachers, waiters, artists (and arts writers for that matter) can only dream of.
Some participants in A Year of Time 1:30 felt that they had nothing of value to exchange, or they just preferred to pay cash. But
Kennedy fashioned the 60 vessels for A Year of Time 1:30 over the course of one calendar year (another way to measure time). She assigned the project a scale of 1:30, and that’s where I started getting confused. I’m still not sure why she settled on 1:30, but as the artist pointed out to me there are 525,600 minutes in a year. And, demonstrating that she’s not going mad, she realised that she couldn’t weave vessels 24/7 (if she could she really would be like a woman in a tower in a fairy tale.) As Bridget Kennedy patiently explained to me, “So that’s why I did a scaled down ‘time map’ of 1:30 ratio. This equates to 17,520 minutes. It would be really cool to find 29 other people to also work making vessels for 17,520 minutes each– then I could literally show a full year of time in one show. But that’s another project still in the planning stage.” Something to look forward to, at another time.
Correspondence used for the artwork ‘Many Hands: A year of exchanges and stories’
As there is no way I can write this article of 13 hours 47 minutes I’ve decided to exchange minutes for words and am crafting you 827 new words (+ a quote of old words) I hope this is OK? TC
Um ok. You just had to be a rebel
It’s not about being rebellious, just practical! I guess you could worry