COVER STORY #04
Text by Costanza Paissan
The experience of time passing is one of the central elements of Davide Balula’s research. The artist has in fact focused on the interpretations of this theme from the beginning of his career, finding each time different angles and ways to shape his reflection on the matter. After taking the first steps in the field of experimental and electronic music, Balula started recording the passing of time through various paintings, placed in different contexts and then recovered and exhibited to show the traces of their past. This is the case of the Burnt Paintings (2009-2015), exposed to the action of fire; of the River Paintings (2009-2015), immersed in rivers and exposed to water, mud and algae; of the Buried Paintings (2010-2015), buried under layers of soil and altered by the action of natural decay processes and by fungi and bacteria; and even more explicitly of the Artificially Aged Paintings (2014-2015), exposed to extreme conditions and the effect of electromagnetic radiation. The changing of materials over time and under certain conditions turns these works into documents of a larger story, rooted in the depths of duration rather than in the flatness of the moment.
In other works, time introduces itself directly, through the instruments we use to measure and share it. Time is therefore viewed as a language, both an individual expression and a space of relationship, thus not an objective co-ordinate but a space of subjectivity and relationships. Les Humeurs (2007) is an installation featuring twelve clocks, each having a different speed: the different ticking rhythm gives each item a particular mood, a unique character, a human sensitivity, proving that time is relative, but also and especially relational. Le Métronome (Hourglass) (2007) consists of two containers filled with black ink, in which neon spirals light up alternately at the rate of two beats per minute. In Endless Pace (Variation for 60 Dancers), presented for the first time at Performa 09 in New York in 2009 and then re-proposed on other occasions, sixty performers form a large circle and each interpret in their own way the movements of the hands of a clock for a period of sixty minutes, showing how the perception of time on which common life is based is first of all profoundly individual and specific.
SCREAMING HUMANS (CLOCK) (2018) is the title of the performance conceived by Davide Baula for KURA. In this case too, the measurement of time is connected with the action of a group of performers, each with a specific character. The sounds produced in unison, linked to certain moods such as anger, excitement an happiness, act as a common thread within the exhibition. Visitors initially perceive the presence of performers thanks to imperceptible distinctive elements, discrete traces and a rhythmic and constant sound, which gradually becomes an integral part of the experience, to the point that it becomes almost unnoticed. Similar to the tolling of bells in a village whose inhabitants have internalized their regular sound, the ticking sound here becomes the metronome of a choral and collective experience.
Photo by Henrik Blomqvist