Against the Run, 2014. Found clock, 4 cm deep, 28 cm in diameter. Private Collection, Nürnberg
Alicja Kwade explores our subjective realities through concrete disturbances she engineers that disrupt our expectations of materials, time, and gravity. Inquisitive and mesmerizing, her works prompt alternative logics and highlight the distinction between perception and understanding. Kwade tests the limits of everyday materials and our preconceived notions towards them: Mirrors appear to sink into corners; objects seem to pass through panels of glass; a heavy mass suddenly moves inexplicably. In testing the properties of her objects, she reveals the precarious nature of supposed universal truths, uncovering portholes to parallel worlds and allowing the set of rules governing ours to be confounded.
For Against the Run, Kwade manipulates the movements of a clock by reversing its conventional mechanism—the clock’s face rotates backwards while its hands appear to stand still. In so doing, she restructures a representation of time, compelling us to do a double-take and re-evaluate this quotidian object on which we rely. While her alteration is a simple one, it confounds our expectations and is virtually impossible to read, even though it continues to tell the correct time. With this work, she calls attention to the abstract nature of the systems we invent to make sense of the world. This shift in perspective has particular significance in Iceland, where the perception of a day may change dramatically in the progression of weeks, months, and seasons.