Saturday, December 17, 2016

Holiday Recommendation Guest Post: Eleanor King

The ubiquitous Casio F-91W watch was released in 1991 and continues to be a best-seller today. This affordable and durable digital timepiece is disparately renowned worldwide: loved by hipsters for its classic retro style, while simultaneously declared to be "the sign of al-Qaida" because it is known to be a key part of bomb-making tutorial sessions in Afghanistan, according to interrogators at Guantanamo Bay. In the last couple of years, the “collaborative distribution platform and diachronic publisher” HALMOS took Casio's iconic design and reprogrammed it for limited-edition artists’ watches, each version hacked with a special alteration to its digital display.

Tauba Auerbach approaches this limitation with a sensitivity that seamlessly relates to her art practice as a whole. She writes: "I think about time — all the time….I’ve always had a fraught relationship with this ‘familiar stranger’ as J.T. Fraser aptly called it…" Indeed, this watch somehow bends the wearer's own relationship to time by neglecting to tell you anything at a mere glance. The face dances to a circular, rhythmic cycle, set faster or slower by preference of its owner. In fact, one needs to take a moment to use a free hand in order to activate the screen to reveal what time it actually is, otherwise the little screen just cycles away at its own pace continuously.

I've had more compliments, queries, and have even received strangely significant 'cred' for having worn this piece daily. It is a conversation starter, or ender. I once even used it to get out of some nasty NYC parking tickets (the court dude happened to be wearing the F-91W too). I bought The Familiar Stranger at the New York Art Book Fair in 2014, just days after my step-father had passed away. It was, perhaps, some retail therapy. I don’t generally splurge $175 on accessories, but, ‘this is an artwork’, I said to myself. It turns out that this piece is my memento mori. It reminds me every day to be in the present, to take nothing for granted, and of course, that life is short. All of the things that good art is supposed to do.

Tauba Auerbach's The Familiar Stranger is one of three limited edition artist watch hacks by HALMOS. You can also get watches by Dexter Sinister  or Marc von Schlegell. Check out HALMOS’ other projects including The Library Stack, a card file of eBooks, video, audio and apps focused on art and culture

Eleanor King is a Nova Scotian artist based in New York City. She has exhibited widely, including the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, The Peekskill Project (HVCCA), the Spring/Break Art Show, Franklin Street Works, and in solo exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, and Diaz Contemporary.

She attended residencies at The MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, SOMA Mexico, and The Banff
Centre; she is the 2016 Canadian Artist-in-Residence at Glenfiddich Scotland and recipient of the A.I.R. Gallery Fellowship for 2016-2017. Her work has been featured in many publications including Canadian Art, C Magazine, and Art in America. Eleanor is a Fulbright fellow with an MFA from Purchase College, SUNY, and a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. She was finalist for the Sobey Art Award and she has received grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and Arts Nova Scotia. Eleanor is represented by Diaz Contemporary in Toronto, Canada. Visit her site, here.

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