Collection Ivo Wessel, Berlin
The work by the German artist Via Lewandowsky is a clock with hands that accelerate faster than time. The work can be interpreted as a caricature of time flying by. The clock manifests the idea that we cannot get things done – regardless of what we might have planned, time eludes us at an alarming pace.
Lewandowsky often conceives works that expose the irrationality in what we normally consider common logic. He plays with and manipulates ordinary objects, creating new meaning. In this work, the function of time is disabled and irony and deceit have taken its place. Via these minor displacements, the artist exposes the things we often take for granted in our culture and the oddities that help shape our lives.
Time and registering time in places of work is a remnant from the industrialisation where workers had to clock in and out, a method still commonly in use, not only in production but also in knowledge work generally. Rather than using other methods of measurement, we still measure work in the number of hours it takes to perform it.
In Denmark, working hours have dropped over the years. Gradually, we have moved from a sixty-hour week around 1900 to a thirty-seven-hour week in 1990. Although an even shorter working week of fifteen hours was predicted for 2030 during the 1930s, nothing has happened in thirty years. In other words, it has simply become the norm that a real job takes a minimum of thirty-seven hours a week regardless of what you do. Those thirty-seven hours are part of the ’holy’ eight-hour subdivision: eight hours’ work, eight hours’ leisure, and eight hours’ sleep.