A Response to TIME is Love Written by Ed Ritchie

Tāite 2 Hūrae

Thursday 2 July


It can sometimes be difficult to engage with shows that are only presenting you with one medium. Especially video work, as often multiple screens can disturb your focus, sneak into your peripherals and exhaust you before you take everything in. TIME is Love, however, felt like each screen had its own orientation, building its own headroom amongst the others. 

TIME is Love was coordinated by the Nomadic Art Gallery project (which toured Aotearoa over the course of 2020) and was actually the first exhibition programmed after our national lockdown. It was a strange enough feeling to be integrating back into social life, with the added strangeness of opening a show featuring seventeen international artists. This actually felt weirdly akin to the experience of viewing exhibitions over lockdown—with galleries becoming virtual all over the globe. In this way it almost felt like a small film festival, with a loose programme showing films back to back. 


The films were presented as a projection in the back space, two monitors in the front and a projection on the window that screened both inside and out. This was the twelfth iteration of TIME is Love and was titled Universal Feelings: Myths & Conjunctions, touching on themes of relations between people and systems. The works all tied together quite broadly; a balance of quiet films exploring our relationships to place and architecture with quite chaotic films exploring our relationships with media and language.

During TIME is Love I had my studio practice based out the back of Blue Oyster, so my experience of the show was entwined with its duration. It was spread across my day and bled into my routine—the films became sounds in the next room and peripheral matter as I passed by. It’s interesting to think about working in the gallery environment; seeing the work everyday but not visiting it as a visitor would. The work is consumed differently, the experience is not necessarily more or less informative, just different. The show sort of fills itself into the moments of your passings; going to the kitchen, the bathroom, the office. You begin to understand the loops, the beginnings and ends, catching the same part of the work from when you last walked past, becoming a clock or a timeline. 


Often video work can feel overwhelming, with various starting times and never quite knowing how far through a work you might be. Like walking in on someone giving a speech, the experience can sometimes become a process of trying to place yourself within its chronology. Some of the work in this show fitted this structure nicely. One work in particular was IIaria Di Carlo’s The Divine Way, whose title is loosely based on Dante’s The Divine Comedy. It offers a dizzying yet striking montage of a woman descending endless stairs in a multitude of fabulous and opulent staircases from around fifty different locations around the world. Designed almost like an advert, it has no conclusion, just an enticing intro over and over again. I knew where I was when I walked past this work and roughly how long it had been since I’d last walked past. I liked glimpsing the same thing or a similar thing, stringing all the various scenes together until the work completed itself. 

The most exciting aspect of this exhibition, however, was the use of the gallery’s large south-facing window at the front of the space as a screen. With the pane covered in vinyl, the projection screened on both sides of the glass and played throughout the night. The night-time screening schedule was a selection of works from all three monitors played during the day: one work per evening for the duration of the show. 


It was nice viewing a work from outside the gallery; not only does it double the life of its viewing times, but it’s also a space for an introvert to escape the crowd, a reason to stop and stare on the footpath at night or a brief drive-by cinema for passersby. We are used to our footpaths being lit by the moving images of advertising at night, so it’s a relief to reclaim that space and light as artwork. I like how turning a window into a screen still holds its audience on both sides; it’s just that now we are no longer looking through it, but at it, watching as we would have the world outside, and the world looking in. 


Ed Ritchie