Julieta Aranda: Mapping Time in the Museum


It is altogether appropriate that Julieta Aranda, an artist whose work is about mapping new coordinates in space and discovering the human dimension of time, was tapped as the initial artist in the Guggenheim Museum’s new, contemporary art series called Intervals . The exhibition, which quietly resides in a cylindrical stairwell, features objects with altered time/space mechanisms: a radio that transmits electrocardiogram data, a clock on the metric system, and a camera obscura that projects an hourglass with gravity-defying sand. Taken together, these pieces reveal Aranda’s preoccupation with time and its transmission: its measurement and impact, ticks and tremors, its frequency, signal, and reception.

The Mexican-born, New York-trained artist initially studied film at the School of Visual Arts before deciding that her work was more suited to a gallery context than a film festival. Her past projects include Pawnshop, a makeshift space in which artists could hock their work, and e-flux video rental, which consisted of free rentals, screenings, and an archive. Both of these projects point to a desire to re-configure economic relationships in the art world — exposing it to a modicum of reverse gentrification, as well as pioneering alternate models of access for artists and their audience.

Other projects have made use of pseudo-tabloids, graffiti-esque catchphrases, and false color fields, but her first project to deal with constructions of time explicitly was You Had No Ninth of May! , in which Aranda produced an extensive archive of maps and materials focused on Kirbati, a country that in 1995, changed the position of the International Date Line. For Aranda, this move symbolizes the artifice of our homogeneous, empty construction of time, and even puts temporal markers in language, such as “today” and “tomorrow” into question.

Also exhibiting at the 2da Trienal Poli/Gráfica de San Juan, Aranda’s analytic and nuanced work proves that the representation of time is an infinitely rich sphere to investigate, to archive, and to question.

Read Flavorwire’s recent interview with Aranda.

Image: Julieta Aranda, You Had No Ninth of May… (in the wrong end of time), 2008