• Alicja Kwade, Against the Run, 2019

Against the Run

Alicja Kwade


MIT Kendall Square Initiative, Site 4

At first glance Against the Run is a freestanding clock with a restrained modern design newly sited at Kendall Square Site 4 of MIT’s Kendall Square Initiative. 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 has been relocated from its previous location from the Fleischner’s Upper Courtyard to Kendall Square.

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.

  • Alicja Kwade, Against the Run, 2019
    MIT Collection
    Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art funds

  • Photo by Chuck Mayer Photography.






Commissioned with MIT Percent-for-Art Funds

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