World Time Clock exhibition marks time at Shanghai Aurora Museum

Wang Jie
"World Time Clock – Bettina Pousttchi," is a solo show of 24 large black-and-white photographs, with each depicting a public clock in different world cities showing the same time.
Wang Jie
World Time Clock exhibition marks time at Shanghai Aurora Museum

Artist Bettina Pousttchi appears in front of some of her clock images.

World Time Clock exhibition marks time at Shanghai Aurora Museum

Berlin Time, 2012, 180 x 225 cm, C-print

"World Time Clock – Bettina Pousttchi," an exhibition showing at the Shanghai Aurora Museum through December 17, delves into hidden meanings of time and space.

Bettina Pousttchi, a prominent figure in contemporary art in Germany, brings 24 dauntingly sized black-and-white photographs to her solo-exhibition, with each depicting a public clock in different cities around the world showing the time of 1:55.

Pousttchi, who established her global reputation through sculpture, photography, video, and site-specific large-scale installation, started her "World Time Clock" photo project in 2008. Since then, she has travelled around the globe to photograph in any time zone of the world a public clock at the same time. The activity of travelling to all these places is an integral part of the concept of a performative work. To realize her project, the artist visited many different cities worldwide, among which were Sydney, Shanghai, Seoul, Hong Kong, New Delhi, and Auckland.

Beyond a few individual trips, she circumnavigated the globe twice in one journey, visiting eight different places within 27 days.

The photographs collectively create a "Photographic World Time Clock," hinting at global simultaneity and imagined synchronicity, and disregarding time zones. "The World Time Clock" underscores the global networks that span the world, propelled by increased mobility and digital communication.

World Time Clock exhibition marks time at Shanghai Aurora Museum

Shanghai Time, 2008,180 x 225 cm, C-print

As an entity, the "World Time Clock" forms a typology of an urban object that is vanishing: the public clock, which has become a relic of the analog age in our era.

"Clocks on public buildings such as city halls, bell towers, and post offices are becoming increasingly rare," Pousttchi said.

When asked why the time chosen was 1:55, the artist had an answer.

"In advertising, watches are always shown at 10 minutes past 10 to form a 'Happy Face.' While in the moving image, 5 minutes before noon is a common representation to construct suspense," she explained. "I combined these two visual memories and chose my own time: 1:55pm for all the clocks."

It is interesting that even though the photos zoom in the clock itself, so it is hard to see the overall picture of the building, visitors still find it easy to relate to the cities they are familiar with.

"I am sure the local visitors here would immediately decipher which clock is from Shanghai," she said with a smile.

Exhibit Info:

Date: Through December 17 (closed Mondays), 10am-5pm (Tuesday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday), 10am – 9pm (Friday)

Venue: Shanghai Aurora Museum

Address: 99 Fucheng Rd


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