Time in This Time curated works from nine artists to reflect on time today
Harvest's CEO Danny Wen speaks on giving language to people who felt that time had collapsed on itself by commissioning these works.
- Alif Ibrahim
- 9 March 2021
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
There was a point in time in the past year when our understanding of time started to shift. Some days felt longer than others and weeks started to blur together. Such is life at times of uncertainty, where the usual markers of time dissolved under new circumstances, leaving you grasping for new ways to make sense of the world. With the project Time in This Time that launched in December 2020, time tracking software company Harvest gathered nine artists and creators to reflect on how to understand time during this difficult period. “In the early days of the pandemic, when we were trying to understand what our community was going through, we heard a lot of feedback about the strangeness of time. People would share about how time felt like it had collapsed on itself, that everything felt like it was happening at once,” says Danny Wen, Harvest’s CEO. “Without the usual mile markers of the day — being able to go out and play basketball, take the kids to school or go into the office — everything was fuzzy.”
Danny and his team wanted to challenge themselves with an experiment, one that would add to the conversation and give language to help people understand the situation. Collaborating with creative strategist Haley Hoffman and Push Project’s Molly Surno, the team briefed artists to create something for what essentially was a time capsule filled with perspectives on time. “We asked each creative to curate and talk to us about their previous time-related work, to create a piece of new work or continue a work in progress and to share with us some of the process of creating it,” he says. For those creating new projects, they gave a simple brief: “What does time in this time mean to you?”
“We wanted the creatives to reflect the Harvest community — multidisciplinary, globally and culturally diverse, and creative. We wanted a mix of established artists and emerging creatives,” Danny says. “We looked for creatives whose previous work had touched on the concept of time in some way. For some, this was overt. For others, we saw the connection and told them how their work spoke to time for us.” They wanted the contributions to be playful and accessible. Viewing the projects should feel less like visiting a gallery, but more like having a conversation with someone new.
Danny highlights a few works that stood out to him. “Some of the creatives took our brief and emerged with a finished piece. Others wanted more collaborative conversations, which we loved doing. Black Appétit came with a lot of different ideas before they settled on their photo essay,” Danny says on Harlem-based duo's contribution, A Lockdown Guide to Sunday Dinner. “People have really connected with it. It was great to introduce a long-form piece to the capsule, and it really let them expound on the ideas about community and food that they’ve been working with throughout this time.”
Another contribution, a video piece titled Third Round, Part 6 by artist Azikiwe Mohammed, asks: What are the places we go to while looking for space? Danny describes the video as a lullaby for the new world, made for the Black community. “Every conversation we had was part education, exploration, and poem. When we first spoke, he had been creating things that serve people throughout the pandemic. We’re so happy to be engaging and encouraging a conversation that raises ideas and feelings for people,” says Danny on his experience with Azikiwe. “When we first spoke, he was doing his New Davonhaime Food Bank, a traveling food bank that, like all his work, departs from the usual way that service is offered, turning it into something tailored to the community that he's in conversation with.” In their last conversation, Azikiwe talked about opening the Black Painters Academy, a free space open to everyone that takes traditional art education and turns it on its head.
In the short term, he hopes, the collection will help people take a pause and be encouraged to reflect on how time has felt for them personally. “In the long term, we hope this will be a capsule that captures a small slice of the interesting times we're in,” Danny concludes.
GalleryTime in This Time (Copyright © individual artists and Harvest, 2021)
Livia Falcaru: Always Changing Always Growing for Time in This Time (Copyright © the artist and Harvest, 2021)