Tyree Guyton • 2017 • Wood, paint, and mixed media • Kensington
THE TIMES was a collaborative installation envisioned by Tyree Guyton of Detroit’s celebrated Heidelberg Project. In partnership with Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light program, Impact Services, and other local partners, Guyton updated the traditional city clock tower with a massive array of painted timepieces covering the facade of a former rug factory in the Kensington neighborhood. In many of his installations, Guyton explores the clock as a symbol and time as a concept to “appreciate the present time. A time to act, think, be, and do, here and now.” Over the course of a year, Guyton and Heidelberg Project President Jenenne Whitfield visited with neighborhood partners in Kensington. These meetings culminated in a series of summer paint days in which local collaborators, residents from Impact Services’ transitional housing facility adjacent to the factory, and visitors from Detroit painted the clocks on the building’s exterior. By calling attention to the urgency and opportunity of our times as a testament to recovery in the face of adversity, THE TIMES serves as a monument to reframing our awareness of this moment in history.
Partners and Collaborators: Mural Arts Philadelphia, Heidelberg Project, City of Philadelphia, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services, Impact Services, the veterans in the transitional housing facility managed by Impact Services, Mark Johnston (Detroit), New Kensington Community Development Corporation, Prevention Point, McPhearson Library Maker Jawn program, and everyone who joined us for public paint days in Kensington. THE TIMES was presented as a part of the Monument Lab: Philadelphia (2017) exhibition.
Major support for Monument Lab 2017 projects staged in Philadelphia’s five squares provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. An expanded artist roster and projects at additional neighborhood sites made possible by the William Penn Foundation. Generous additional support provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. Full list of exhibition sponsors.
Project Manager: Gaby Raczka
In consideration of the question, “What is an appropriate monument for the city of Philadelphia,” we propose broadening that question to ask, what is an appropriate monument for our country and our world? To that question, we offer THE TIMES, a project designed to explore the concept of time in our lives. Now is the time to move towards positive change. Often we hear the familiar clichés: I don’t have enough time, Time is running out, I don’t have time, What time is it? I need more time, Time is on our side, I wish I could go back in time, etc. Through his work, Tyree challenges us to think consciously about what we’re saying:
Throughout my career, I have explored the concept of time from a visual perspective by playing with clocks. Caricature in style, these clocks often have no hands, or the numbers are traveling backwards, or are mixed up, or the clocks have no numbers at all. My goal is to help people explore how time factors into our lives and how it sometimes hinders our ability to progress, or accelerates our anxiety of not being productive at all. Both are centered on the illusion of time, to do and not do. Plato said, Time is the moving image of reality. What this means to me is that everything we do revolves around time and yet…the only time that we ever really have is the very moment we are in. My challenge with this project is to help people to appreciate the present time. A time to act, think, be and do, HERE and NOW. Yesterday lives only in our mind and tomorrow is not promised. I believe that we must make the most of time and the time to do that is NOW.
We propose transforming the exterior of the factory at Tusculum into a type of clock monument that visually depicts the importance and relevance of the times we are living in (see exhibit “A”). The factory will literally be covered in clocks of all shapes, colors, sizes and styles. At this stage, the project will be designed as a temporary installation with full consideration given to the material used on the surface of the building. For example, clocks made of wood will be designed to fit into the frames of the windows, as well as actual battery-operated timepiece clocks. A weatherproof outdoor decal (designed specifically for concrete) will be used on the actual bricks of the factory.
Some clocks may be shipped from Detroit but most will be created on site. The community will be encouraged to participate by helping to create handmade non-timepieces and by working with Tyree to transform the structure. We will also put out a call for a donation of actual timepieces (battery-operated clocks) and handmade clocks on wood. If feasible, the inside of the structure will serve as a workspace to make and paint the clocks. We also envision using the inside to continue the Monument Lab discussions, and/or a collection of responses to the theme of time during the actual installation. Once the installation is complete, we imagine some type of reception/celebratory event.
About the Artist
Tyree Guyton (b. 1955) was born and raised in Detroit on the street that gives its name to his most famous work: The Heidelberg Project. Though Guyton was introduced to art as a child by his grandfather, Sam Mackey, and later trained for two years at the Center for Creative Studies, Detroit, he is most known for charting his own path with the creation of the Heidelberg Street.
Guyton receives commissions from around the world and his work is collected nationally and internationally, and is featured in the collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Perez Museum, and the Studio Museum of Harlem. He has earned over eighteen awards and fellowships, including a prestigious one-year residency at the Lorenz Haus in Basel, Switzerland. Guyton received an honorary doctorate of fine art from the College of Creative Studies in 2009 and is the focus of many journals and books in both the United States and Europe and a book dedicated solely to his work, Connecting the Dots: Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project (Wayne State University Press, 2007) is still widely collected. He is currently at work on a book, 2+2=8: A Philosophy by Tyree Guyton.