Marking Time

I can become obsessed wth the marking of time.  I just had my birthday, and every year I use it like a “do over” New Year’s Eve type of event.  I reflect on the year prior; What did I achieve? Where did I fail?  What did I not expect to happen?  Then I look forward making some goals for the “new year” on the planet.  This project, in some ways, was derived from this obsession with time. Letters, postcards, and the like definitely mark time for us all.

There is an exhibition currently at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City on Japanese artist On Kawara. Curator Jeffrey Weiss explains in an interview, “The daily measures of our lives, which we often take for granted, is something that Kawara sought to acknowledge.”


Kawara would send postcards to those in the art world, sometimes sending the same person daily postcards. On them would read “I got up at 8:18 a.m.” or “I got up a 8:02 a.m.” He sought to intensify the awareness of every moment and to make it matter.

Kawara’s other daily practice was painting the date on canvas. From 1966 through the early 2000’s, he made monochromatic canvases, each made during the course of a single day and would paint in white that day’s date in seemingly perfect letters and numbers.


According to Weiss, “Kawara wanted to eliminate biography and his personal life from the significance of his work.”

I know when I look at the canvas pieces in particular, if I find a date of significance to me I have an emotional reaction.  My Birthday, the day I had a child, the day I lost a friend, etc. All of these various emotions come to me just by looking at the date.

The exhibition continues at the Guggenheim until May 3, 2015.  Make the time!

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