At first glance Against the Run, a freestanding clock with a restrained modern design sited on a patch of lawn adjacent to Richard Fleischner’s Upper Courtyard, figures seamlessly into the plaza’s built environment. The clock’s unusual feature becomes evident on closer inspection; although its minute and hour hands tell the correct time, the second-hand ticks counterclockwise one beat and then returns to the twelve o’clock position, while the clock’s face rotates to the left, one fraction every second. This jerky punctuation appears to jostle the entire dial counter-clockwise with each movement of the second hand—quite literally against the run of time.
As a human-made system of measurement, units of time like days, hours, and minutes, are an inescapable aspect of contemporary life, and govern the pace of human activity. In both Against the Run and a thematically related series of sculptures, Zeitzonen (Time Zones), Alicja Kwade questions the basis of metrics that index and quantify time, addressing the peculiar bureaucracies that maintain their global standardization. Time zones, for instance, are strategically hewn along national borders and economic zones to advantage industrial production. Adherence to “the time” similarly regulates the schedules of urban and industrial workers. While the way we measure time is linear, Against the Run suspends the notion of its ever-forward movement, proposing alternate systems of timekeeping.
This newly installed Percent-for-Art work was commissioned and presented in conjunction with Alicja Kwade’s List Center exhibition In Between Glances (October 18, 2019-January 5, 2020).
As part of this percent-for-art commission, Against the Run will be relocated to Kendall Square in late 2021.
Alicja Kwade was selected for the commission by Percent-for-Art committee members including: Azra Akšamija, Associate Professor, MIT Program for Art, Culture, and Technology; Jon Alvarez, Director, MIT Office of Campus Planning; Richard Amster, Director, MIT Campus Construction; Robert Brown, Director of Perkins & Will Architects, Executive Architects of Kendall Square Initiative; John Durant, Director, MIT Museum; Paul C. Ha, Director, MIT List Visual Arts Center; Michael Owu, Director, Real Estate at MITIMCo; Stuart Schmill, MIT Admissions; and Emily Watlington, MIT Graduate Student in History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art.
Against the Run was commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art funds and generous gifts from Robert Sanders (’64) & Sara-Ann Sanders.
Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art funds