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The paradoxes of time

The Out-of-Sync exhibition broaches the sweeping issue of the place taken up by the dimension of time in the visual arts from a specific angle: it is concerned with works in which several temporalities coexist, overlap, contradict one another, thus developing a paradoxical relationship to time. Through this interest in what the philosopher Elie During, in his recent book Faux Raccords, calls “times out-of-tune” [“les temps désaccordés”], the works brought together in the show are not meant to illustrate or define the notion of time. On the contrary, they offer us an experience of its elusive nature.

Anri Sala After Three Minutes, 2007
© Courtesy : Hauser & Wirth Zurich, Londres ; Marian Goodman, New York ; Johnen/Schöttle, Berlin, Cologne, Munich ; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris

The time-related figures of non-synchrony, disjunction and delay play a significant part in works produced in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Their development went hand-in-hand with the rise of the moving image in the visual arts, marked by the emergence of video and the growing use of film by artists, together with the busy dialogue struck up between the various art disciplines, focusing in particular on questions of time and process. The Out-of-Syncexhibition brings together a series of key works from that period, linked, dialogue-like, with more recent works illustrating the topicality of this question in contemporary artistic practices.

The matter of recording is central to the show. By way of straightforward techniques, the works on view in Out-of-Synchighlight the way the recording of time and its recreation may give rise to unconventional temporal forms. The installation Present Continuous Past(s) (1974) by Dan Graham is emblematic of this approach: using a video system which retransmits a picture of the exhibition area with a lapse of a few seconds, it offers us a perception of an “extended present time”. A similar time-frame is conjured up by Laurent Montaron’s Melancholia (2005): taking the form of a Space-Echo - a musical analogue device designed to produce echo and reverberation effects - displayed like a bas-relief in a pierced niche at the base of a wall, the work presents our eye with the ever-changing loops produced by its magnetic tape.

Hiroshi Sugimoto Akron Civic Theater, Ohio, 1980
© DR

Another important aspect of the exhibition, underscored by the title Out-of-Sync - indicating a discrepancy or lapse between sound and image -, is the place taken up in it by the sonic and musical fields. Bruce Nauman and Dan Graham have regularly compared the dimension of time in their early works with the musical output of composers like Steve Reich, whose “phasing” technique, based on the superposition of several identical lines of sound played at slightly differing speeds, foreshadows the use of a time delay in pieces like Bruce Nauman’s Lip Sync (1969). This interest in complex forms of time possibly suggested by the musical fields occurs, in particular, in the activities of Manon de Boer, several of whose films take as their point of departure musical works such as John Cage’s 4’33” and Béla Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin Sz. 117, as well as in works by Anri Sala, whose video diptych After Three Minutes (2007) plays with the clash between the beat of a cymbal lit by a stroboscopic light and the frequencies peculiar to video recording.


  • Christophe Gallois
    Marie-Noëlle Farcy
    Clément Minighetti

  • Manon de Boer
    David Claerbout
    Tony Conrad
    Valie Export
    Marco Godinho
    Dan Graham
    David Lamelas
    Laurent Montaron
    Bruce Nauman
    Anri Sala
    Hiroshi Sugimoto