....we all live in its grip...... time.
In the weeks to come, many university students and faculty will be marking the end of the 2014 spring semester. For some, it will be a time of deep reflection and accomplishment, while for others it will be a time of escaping and forgetting. Whatever the case, the final reckoning will be determined in large part by how time was budgeted, measured, and spent. Like many of you, this is a reality that I grapple with personally and professionally as I figure out how to balance the demands and pleasures of life. For the past year and a half, I have being running something of a marathon in my work and home life, and as I look forward to finally winding down this summer and reinvesting time for both this blog and my own writing and research projects, I find myself deeply inspired by the creative individuals I have been teaching and working with during this past academic year. Tonight, many of these students, along with their family, friends, colleagues, and instructors, will be gathering at a rite of passage-- the BFA Graduation Exhibition. Some weeks back, I was approached by the students of this year's show to write the foreword to their catalogue. I share it here with you as both an invitation to attend and celebrate in their accomplishments, but also as a way to reflect upon the theme of this year's show, the time that roughly spans the course of one semester-- ninety-seven days.
Congratulations to Tessa, Roxanne, Rhea, Celina, Kirsten, Hira, Shannon, Derek, Debbie, Charis, Cale, Alana, and Alison! It has been a true pleasure getting to know each of you, and watching the development of your talents and ideas over the years. Tonight is all yours.
FOREWORD to "Ninety-Seven Days" Catalogue
“There are moments of existence when time and space are more profound, and the awareness of existence is immensely heightened”—these words written by nineteenth French poet and art critic Charles Baudelaire form part of one of the most important manifestos in the history of art. At its surface, his is a call upon artists to observe and bring awareness to the modern world around them, to see and record the fleeting, the fugitive, the contingent, the half of art whose other half he argues is the eternal and immutable. Writing at a moment of cultural crossroads and urban transformation in capitalist modernity not dissimilar from the one we occupy today, the core of Baudelaire’s concern was how “time” was increasingly seen as a commodity—something to be divided up, standardized, rationalized, and exploited, ruthlessly reminding all of us of our limitations and perceived value in measurable terms. For him, the antidote to such evisceration of time was an art that brought awareness to the chance and ephemerality that rose up in face of the increasing rationalization and standardization of life’s moments. In this way, artists were called upon not only to produce work, but also to give new value to time.
It is in this spirit of critical inquiry that I invite you to view "Ninety-Seven Days." At its most banal, the exhibition title describes the passage of time over a university semester that the assembled artists experienced together in collective duration. It is a reminder of the pressure, the call to action, the reckoning, and institutional evaluation that will earn them their long awaited university credential. In short, it is a chronicle about the work of making art. But at its most profound and heightened, ninety-seven days represents a dynamic engagement with time and ideas beyond measure and language that the audience will be called upon to recognize, glimpse, and re-value within themselves. Themes of ambiguity, isolation, meditative journeys, fading memories, mutations and lost stories, comingle with art that engages codes, space, reorientation, technology, nature, and the overcoming of tradition and obstacles. Indeed, if one of the jobs of art is to turn time into things worthy of critical reflection, these thirteen artists remind us that time will pass, and that we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use and highest level of awareness.
Dorothy Barenscott, Art Historian