stopover – from the importance of time in contemporary artistic practices in times of time compression

Today we live through times that are recognizably fully global. Globalization has presented itself, foremost, as a winner of a sort of battle against time. The end of History has been spoken of, end of all utopias and, above all, of the totalizing expansion of space. Time has become operative. So that the various fluxes may circulate. And, by being digitalised, it has been compressed into measures that escape us. The present thus becomes perpetual. The compression of the idea of now, produced by the technological voracity, creates a kind of new sublime; the techno-sublime. In this way, the idea of contemporaneity is made complex. The need for temporality in a time without time for having time produces a new situation known as social schizophrenia: when the links of the time chain are severed. We have become, therefore, impatient with Time. Impatient with everything. Time has become, when you notice it, a kind of burden that makes your life harder. We have become impatient with everything and, as such, art included. Therefore, to rethink the mechanisms of Time and the forms of action that the more demanding temporalities require is one of the most important political tasks of our time. The essential question, as direct participants of the designated artworld is, so: what to do? Some hypotheses, based on projects already existent bring to artistic practice a Derridean notion of im-possibility, that is, the possibility of impossibility, a sort of survival need in adverse conditions as the ones we face today.  Stopover. A closer analytical look at the word stopover in Portuguese – paragem – immediately apprehends the existence, inside, of two other almost opposite words: para – the verb to stop – and age – the verb to act. We speak of the contemporary possibility to rethink and update, in artistic practices, the notion of contemplation, at the level of artistic making/knowing as much as at the level of reception. That which we will call active contemplation. A contemplation, let us say, strategic so that we can distance ourselves from the notion so criticized throughout modernity. The contemplation proposed here entails a temporal adjustment to the action of thinking and, as we all know, that reflexive act takes time. Or, using the words of T. J. Clark in his book “The Sight of Death”: “An experiment in Art Writing” when he states: “Visual images that carry within them the possibility of genuine difficulty, genuine depth and resistance”. Some seminal works of contemporary art can be included in this new contemplative possibility: “Voyage en mer du Nord” de Marcel Broodthaers; “Slide piece” de James Coleman; “Giardini” de Steve McQueen; “Study for Strings” de Susan Philipzs, “Destroyed word” de Santiago Sierra; “Albert’s way” de Francis Alÿs; “artist at work” de Mladen Stilinovic. Many others could be included here. However, these are significative of the possibility that we now propose to think and research. They all have a common denominator: Time, whether in its extension of making or in the work itself and its relationship with Time. These are works that in their “tranquil” temporality embody an option so dramatically opposed to contemporary speed that it works perceptively as a stimulant, that is, it provokes a kind of restlessness in the spectator that now finds her or himself absolutely unused to the passing of time. In making time necessary as determining factor to act, what we are facilitating as new form of observation is, then, active contemplation.  Still in the domain of the visual, a necessary reference to some cinema, mainly European and Asian, that finds itself also in the same conceptual latitudes.  Right away the filmmaker Bela Tarr, but also the Russian Alexander Sokurov or the Chinese Wang Bing. In the porous territory that today characterizes the border in disciplinary terms and where we want to be situated, we should add to this kind of hegemony of the visual the other possibilities of feeling: music and sound as fundamental aspect of this proposition. Since the radical proposal of the 4’33” by Cage, and the approach to silence always so avoidable in contemporary everyday life, as also the already mature experimental music involved with drone aesthetics and, necessarily linked to the essence of time, as with Eliane Radigue, Orphax, etc. All these issues constitute the conceptual flow of this project that seeks, above all, to deepen this relation of art with time from a fundamental and essential premise: without time there is no chance of Art. To bring together in the project several research areas is also an important purpose: visual arts, philosophy, music and performative arts, all of them, obviously, in a dimension so dear to artistic practices, that is, in the expanded field.
However, the project wants to integrate at its centre a very close relation with the doctoral students that want to study in this area. Thus, the students belonging to the several doctoral programmes of the various areas and institutions will be invited to participate.

Among important premises of the project, some highlights:

Empty time
We become aware of a certain type of time that unhumanises us.
Of it we can say that, when it becomes installed in us, it affects our quality as experimenters.
That is a serious loss by not letting us transform time into knowledge.
Curiously, it is that very empty time of the clock that, full of now(s), gives us – could this be an oxymoron? – the political opportunity to rehearse its resistance.

Oblique time
Here is a time fitting the autonomy of a thought and an action that puts us inside and out.
This movement, in itself, causes the opening to a coexistence between the living of anthropological time and the non-determination of cosmic time.
To that coexistence we give the name of oblique time, which makes its march signalled among the rubbles of a linear time overexposed to discursive rationality.

Un-anaesthetic time
A time voted to resistance. A time that does not share the generalised anaesthesia and that, on the contrary, proposes a break with these postures to better be able to operate as a catalyser of resistant options in adverse conditions.

Time with Time
It is said of our time as the time of instantaneity, the time with time refers to the possibility to embody the human dimension of time with the several layers that constitute it. An archival look to understand the present.

Project Coordinator(s) Fernando José Pereira
Start - End Date 2018-01 / 2019-01
Research Hub Artistic Research