Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rockin' Around the Clock

Where: Hirshhorn Museum

When: through October 2, 2016

Bettina Pousttchi's large installation, World Time Clock, which covers the third floor inside ring of the concrete donut, is a reflection on space and time.  As you can see from the picture, images of clocks from around the world, all showing approximately the same time (1:55 pm), are hung on the wall.  This means the viewer's walk around the space is an international journey that requires no travel and a way to stop time without destroying the universe.

This is the international debut of the artwork, which is fitting, considering that the 1884 conference establishing the prime meridian and the international time zones we all use today was held here in DC.  Much as it pains me to say it, the donut is a great venue for this installation, precisely for its circular shape.  You feel as if you're traveling around a clock as you move through, and I don't think a rectangular space would have been as effective.

As I looked at the various clock faces, I was struck by how similar they were: round, divided into twelve sections, numbers of various sorts to denote the sections, two hands - there is a human desire to mark time that transcends geography or culture.  I was reminded of the advertisement (is it for Apple?) with the Maya Angelou voice-over: "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." 

Two other observations while at the donut: a man posing for a photo in front of Big Man, in a "Big Man" pose, happily not adopting the sculpture's sartorial style (or lack thereof), and preparations for a new exhibit on the second floor, including scraping away the wall notes from the painted background - something I'd never seen before.  I would have stopped and watched the workers longer, but it seemed like staring.

Verdict: If you've got some time, stroll around the third floor.  This is good stuff, and how often do I say that about something at the Hirshhorn?