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Reeling In the Years

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1:37 to 1:45 p.m. Bad stretch: Read six dates incorrectly in less than 100 years. Embarrassed. Remember what a terrible student I used to be.

1:45 to 1:50 p.m. Somehow, it occurs to me that we are now reading dates that end in digits that correspond to my life. Think of family, friends, shortcuts to school. Decide that if I have a funny feeling when I read a particular date after A.D. 39,009, that will correspond to the year I will die. At 39,129 I feel a tingle. I’ve got twenty years left till 2029. Start to get depressed.

1:54 p.m. Depression turns to fury as I realize Kawara has turned me into a puppet. Read another wrong date.

1:55 to 2:05 p.m. Something amazing happens. I decide to look up from the page and begin reciting years with my eyes closed. Start drifting. No idea how many years are passing. Hear only sound. Then sound seems to fall away. I become some sort of Indian raga, the singer and the song. Perceive cadences, rhythms, tonalities. Euphoric.

2:05 p.m. Slowly come back into my body. Look at Molly while reading. She seems to be responding to something too. Feel great.

2:06 to 2:10 p.m. For the last four minutes read perfectly, contentedly, happily, without thought, without time or worry. I like Kawara; I love art. Think about how art has long sought to vanquish time, stretch it, crawl inside it, and allay our fears that no one gets out of here alive.

In One Million Years, Kawara looks slyly and seriously into the face of our metaphysical gatekeeper, time, and allows us to muse about temporality, duration, doom, and life. The week passes. Life goes on, but I keep returning to Zwirner to watch, hoping I’ll be asked to step in and read for someone who doesn’t show up.

One Million Years
On Kawara.
David Zwirner Gallery. Through February 14.

E-mail: jerry_saltz@newyorkmag.com.


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