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Tick Tock

Text Nicky Manson Photographs Supplied The O'Clock Time Design, Design Time exhibition in China has design tongues wagging. Held in collaboration with the Triennale Design Museum in Milan and the Italian Cultural Institute in Beijing, the exhibition explored the relationship between time and design and was organised in partnership with the haute horlogerie watch brand Officine Panerai. Designed and arranged by Patricia Urquiola, herself an artist with permanent exhibitions in MoMA, the exhibition was held at Beijing's CAFA Art Museum (the Art Museum of China Central Academy of Fine Arts), a state-of-the-art, innovative exhibition space, which stands 24 metres in height and comprises six floors. The museum itself is a work of art and contemporary design. Designed by Japanese architect Arcata Isozaki, there is an emphasis on light, created by a glass curtain at the entrance, which enhances the transparency of the architecture and casts natural light onto the space and its art. The modern and unique shaped space, made up of a myriad of irregular curves, is further illuminated by the trigonal sunroof. The exhibition was made up of a collection of multi-media presentations, from installations, design pieces and works of art to videos by artists and designers, all studying the various facets of time. Even the entrance to the exhibition explored the subject with its presentation of two choices, a normal entrance and a fast track entrance, the latter being a quick and privileged, yet incomplete summary of the collection, investigating the idea of fighting against time. Presented in three stages, O'Clock dealt with subjects such as time travel, the measurement of time and the representation of time. Exciting artworks included new works by British artist Damien Hirst, who used clock dials to create 'Beautiful Sunflower Panerai Painting' and 'Beautiful Fractional Sunflower Panerai Painting'. Other talking pieces were Nicolas le Moigne's 'Public Clock' and Alicia Eggert and Mike Fleming's 'Eternity'. It was Susanna Hertrich's 'Chrono Shredder' that intrigued us the most - it explores what happens to time and days passed, when they have indeed passed. By passing the days through a paper shredder, it makes a poignant statement that the past, as such, is the past and therefore no longer has any value. 'How is time measured?' and 'How can passing time be shown?' are questions that O'Clock seeks to answer by way of poetic and sometimes critical observations. In the words of the curators, Silvana Annicchiarico and Jan van Rossem, 'Exploring O'Clock seeks to give some answers to these questions, by way of enigmatic objects, aesthetic artefacts, ironic projects, playful, philosophical, mechanical, instinctive, existential observations or provocations on the notion of fleetingness.' For more information about this exhibition, visit cafamuseum.org. Previously the editor of décor and design magazine, The Property Magazine, and airline magazine, Indwe, Nicky now freelances.