The duo Haseeb Ahmed & Daniel G. Baird have sought to question the feeling of redundancy towards historical material they see as endemic throughout the visual and applied arts of the world, asking instead, could the burden of the “new” be cast off to make good on the labour of others dead or alive? They began their collaboration by collecting plaster casts of masterworks, used as a primary means of pedagogy until the 1950s, and soon began to make their own moulds of architecture and geological formations from around the globe. These moulds as well as casts now compose a library of forms that they use to compose what they describe as “universalised spaces” – the histories and cultures of the world in a shared space of negotiation. Presented across the two Konsthall venues, they have created two ambitious sculptures that take the form of clock-towers, forming simultaneously twin-centrepieces and an exhibition architecture.
In medieval Flanders, Belfries featuring clocks stood paired with cathedral towers. They housed the courts, becoming a civic form of governance parallel to the religious, and hence an early example of secularisation in Northern Europe. Ahmed & Baird are inspired by this historical example as time is something that holds all individuals in society together and coordinates them, however the experience and value of individual’s time in society differs radically. In this way, time itself and the clock towers that convey time present the tensions in secular society. Each clock tower is made in metal, and adorned with many of the cast fragments the artists have made from around the world including Belfries of Flanders and elements from Gothenburg, to form a new iteration of their “universalised space”.
Haseeb Ahmed lives and works in Brussels.
Daniel Baird lives and works in Chicago.
The work is commissioned for Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA) 2017 and presented at Röda Sten Konsthall and Göteborgs Konsthall.
Has the World Already Been Made? x 10.1: Belfries, 2017, installation detail, WheredoIendandyoubegin – On Secularity, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2017, Göteborgs Konsthall. Photo Hendrik Zeitler.