ESR 11 Blog August/September 2023: Fabiola Fiocco

Time to time

 In this blog post, I want to share some reflections on time and the coexistence of varying, sometimes irreconcilable rhythms in our lives. Time plays a pivotal role in socially engaged art projects, frequently manifesting as open-ended, long-term endeavors demanding significant investments of energy and resources and which are designed to keep evolving over the course of weeks, months, and years, extending even beyond their formal conclusion. In this blog, however, I want to make a much less structured and theoretical reflection, sharing some fleeting and personal impressions.

As part of the FEINART project, we are tasked with writing a blog entry every two months. These two-month intervals often witness a flurry of activity, yet not always resulting in straightaway tangible or evocative experiences. The timing of our editorial plan frequently clashes with the timing of research and writing, each following its own unique rhythm characterized by periods of intense acceleration and extended hiatuses. On multiple occasions, I have found myself facing a blank page, attempting to recollect what really happened during that time frame. Most immediate memories usually revolve around events such as exhibitions, archive visits, or conferences.

The time of the event represents a defined and fleeting moment enabled by the accelerated pace of preparation, which always seems too short and insufficient. When I worked in an independent art space, the event typically coincided with the exhibition’s opening. However, what many perceived as the beginning of the exhibition actually marked the culmination of endless workdays for us, fueled by self-imposed urgency, often exacerbated by ill-timed organisation. We were constantly rushed and perpetually chasing deadlines. These misaligned timeframes accumulated, placing the burden on those tasked with reassembling the pieces.

Time is the resource we constantly convince ourselves is in short supply. There is never enough time to read everything we should, especially insufficient time to fully absorb it. Time for contemplation and writing is often interrupted by other addition, meetings, side-projects initiated due to the slow pace of research. It’s a paradox of too much and too little, prompting us to fill our time with activities to make its passage more real.

The time of withholding. Since February 2018, a significant number of educators and academic professionals have actively participated in nationwide industrial actions across the United Kingdom, primarily driven by disputes over pensions, pay, and working conditions. Instances in which the time of work interrupts and accumulates. Interruptions suffered by everyone, and which require great strength and determination. An increasingly longer time exacerbated by recriminations and disregard from the management, but which manifests in substantial salary deductions, aimed at punishing and deterring further participation during a historically significant period. Time is indeed money.

Sitting before my computer, I have a sheet of paper listing all the deadlines for the autumn season. One after another, I try to impose order and structure on this disorderly and asynchronous process. Deadline of texts that will be published in a year, maybe two. The academic time that requires the original idea, relevant and innovative enough to pass the test of review and publication time. I find myself wondering if I will still find myself in agreement with my past self. As I return to previously surveyed concepts, texts, and readings, I perceive a distinct thickness of time. This is a time that has passed, allowing knowledge and lived experiences to turn into something different. It is a time that has allowed my ideas and insights to evolve and change direction while I was immersed in other temporal streams. Until the next drift.


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