Things to Do

A New Exhibit Explores How We Experience Time

Sue Williamson's There's Something I Must Tell You . Image courtesy the artist and Axis Gallery, New Jersey and New York.

Senses of Time: Video and Film-Based Works of Africa” opened Wednesday at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art. Co-organized by the National Museum of African Art and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, it features six internationally recognized African artists and will run through January 2, 2017.

“Senses of Time” explores through video, film and audio the concept of time and how our bodies feel it. Each of these works also provides visitors an opportunity to reflect on the diversity found in contemporary African artwork.

Senses of Time
Theo Eshetu’s Brave New World I. Courtesy the artist and Axis Gallery, New Jersey and New York. Photograph by Franko Khoury.

Among the works, you’ll see Brave New World I by the London-born, Ethiopian-raised Theo Eshetu. It’s a 35 minute multimedia and video installation that questions the relationship between ritual and technological time through kaleidoscopic illusions of various images including the Twin Towers, Balinese dancers, and an Ethiopian Orthodox celebration of Epiphany. You’ll also see South African artist Berni Searle‘s About to Forget, a three-channel video projection shot on 35 mm cinemascope film that highlights the artists’s ancestry and lineage, with imagery that melts under the forces of history and time.

Senses of Time
Berni Searle’s About to Forget. Photo courtesy of Berni Searle.

You’ll certainly not want to miss London-born, Nigerian Yinka Shonibare MBE‘s Un Ballo in Maschera, which shows the repetitive nature of history through European ballroom dancers in sumptuous African-print fabric, dramatizing the absurdities of political violence.

Senses of Time
Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Un Ballo in Maschera. Image courtesy of Shonibare and James Cohan Gallery, New York.

English-born, South Africa-raised Sue Williamson‘s There’s Something I Must Tell You is a 36-minute-long six-channel rear projection video that highlights generational gaps through the spaces within time. Moataz Nasr‘s (Egypt) The Water dissects the idea of identities becoming distorted by the march of time through water puddles and boots, and Sammy Baloji from the Democratic Republic of the Congo presents Memoire, a haunting choreographed number that explores memory and forgetting the ruins of postcolonial deindustrialization as a man dances through physical ruins.

Senses of Time
Still photo of Sammy Baloji’s Memoire . Photo courtesy of Baloji and Axis Gallery, New Jersey and New York.
Senses of Time
Still shot of Moataz Nasr’s The Water . Photo courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art.

Through seven works of video and film art, the idea of time being a finite concept is disbanded through the ever constant movement of repetition, resistance and reversal. In their own unique way, the artists all emphasize that time is constantly in movement yet simultaneously holds its own form of stasis.