Arcangelo Sassolino, Dilatazione, pneumatica di una forza viva [Pneumatic Dilation of a Living Force], 2010, Steel, glass, gas, 120 x 120 x 230 cm / 80 x 160 x 70 cm, Courtesy the artist, Photo: Fausto Caliari, and Federico, Perezzani

Marc Formanek, Standard Time, 2007, In collaboration with Datenstrudel, Video from performance, Berlin August 2007, Photo: Bernd Schuller.

Accelerating Events, Quotidian and Significant, in Contemporary Society

Tamy Ben-Tor, Still from Normal, 2006, DVD, 4’20’’, Courtesy of Zach Feuer Gallery, New York.

Jens Risch, Seidenstück I (Silk Piece 1), 200-2004, 1000 meters silk, white, ca. 9 x 8 x 6 cm., Courtesy Collection Museum of Modern Art, Frankfurt am Main, Photo: Jörg Baumann.

Julius Popp, bit.fall, 2001-2010, Water and computer-controlled valves, Courtesy the artist, Photo: François Doury.

Reynold Reynolds, Secret Life, 2008, two channel video projection, Courtesy the artist,

Michael Sailstorfer, Zeit ist keine Autobahn [Life is no motorway], 2006, tyre, iron, electronic engine, electric current, wall, Format variable, Courtesy Johann König, Berlin, ©VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.


Centre for Contemporary Culture Strozzina (CCCS)
Piazzo Strozzi
+39 066 2645155
Acceleration in Contemporary Society

May 14-July 18, 2010

Ten international artists — Tamy Ben-Tor, Marnix de Nijs, Mark Formanek, Marzia Migliora, Julius Popp, Reynold Reynolds, Jens Risch, Michael Sailstorfer, Arcangelo Sassolino and Fiete Stolte — will address the theme of time in our “high-speed society” and today's pressured lifestyle with rapid communication and production dictated by new technology.

Time is the dominant imperative of contemporary society resulting in expectations of increasing growth in productivity and longer working hours.  The ultimate goal to be more efficient and our constant hyperactivity impact on every area of life today, invading our private lives with such things as speed dating (for our love lives), power naps (for our health and exercise), quality time (for being with the family) and fast food (for staving off hunger).

This desire to control and optimise every aspect of our lives is matched by a nagging feeling that we never have enough time; thus time has become an essential asset for everyone.  The predominant feature of today's world is dictated by technological development, which has massively increased people's potential for worldwide mobility, triggered a constant flow of information, spawned the concept of a globalised and permanently expanding economy, and spread the idea of constantly rising productivity. Yet for some decades now we have been approaching what is virtually the ceiling of this accelerated growth, as evinced by the gradual collapse of nature's ecosystems which no longer have time to regenerate, and by widespread anxiety and depression which are frequent indicators of the malaise of people living on the edge of their own potential in a high-speed world.

Today's world is characterised by what philosopher Paul Virilio calls "dromocracy", the dictatorship of speed governed by the principle which states that "if time is money, speed is power", yet revealing the paradoxical effect of real immobility which ends up taking hold of us as we are submerged by new and ever faster technologies that lead to cultural sclerosis and to the paralysis of ideas.

In an effort to impart some kind of systematic order to such phenomena, German sociologist Hartmut Rosa idenitifies "social acceleration" as a typically Western phenomenon.  The technological acceleration in the Western world has led to increasing rapidity in every aspect of daily life.  Private life, work, and even social and romantic relationships are classified on the basis of their time span rather than on the basis of their quality.  This results in a constant state of pressure and anxiety.  Insecurity and relativism are the dangers perceived by philosopher Zygmunt Bauman, who has coined the term "liquid modernity" to describe how every certainty and truth in the world is fated to fall under the blows of the corrosive speed of a consumer society that seeks only the gratification of the moment.

The works of selected artists will endeavour to express this aspect of today's world.  They have been chosen on the basis of the various different ways in which they address the themes of time, speed, acceleration and our reaction to those themes.  The exhibition can be seen as a journey designed to involve the spectator in experiences in space and time aiming to highlight the inconsistencies of our "high-speed" society.

Arcangelo Sassolino (Italy, 1967) interprets the tension of modern acceleration through the creation of Dilatazione pneumatica di una forza viva [Pneumatic Dilation of a Living Force], a closed, transparent environment that creates a self-contained reality in which a glass container gradually fills up with gas until it is suddenly overtaken by an unpredictable explosion. Tamy Ben-Tor (Israel, 1975) has created a video entitled Normal, in which she plays a woman in the clutches of the neuroses and anxieties of modern life, who acquaints us with her e-mail correspondence, the responsibilities of her job and with her very full schedule of activities, in the course of a frenzied monologue.

Similarly, Fiete Stolte (Germany, 1979) builds a project around himself, highlighting the contrast between time as we experience it and real time, by "stealing" three hours from every day of the week, thus putting together an eighth day and experiencing the compression of time and human alienation in the constant struggle against the acceleration of the world. The works of Michael Sailstorfer (Germany, 1979) focus on the intrinsic rationale of materials and objects in their activity in real space and time. Zeit ist keine Autobahn [Time is no Motorway] shows a tyre spinning on a wall at high speed, not actually going anywhere but simply wearing down on the spot, hinting at the rapidity with which things are consumed in an ironic depiction of "motionless acceleration". Sculptor Jens Risch (Germany, 1973) manages to impart a physical feel to time, producing sculptures consisting of countless knots on silk thread up to a kilometre long and meticulously recording the progress of his work over the years.

Marnix de Nijs (The Netherlands, 1970) will present an interactive installation Accelerator where each visitor will pit themselves against the accelerated vision of images of a big contemporary city. On the other hand, Reynold Reynolds' (USA, 1966) video-installation Secret Life depicts the condition of a woman trapped in her own apartment, where the passage of time becomes a physical and psychological experience in which natural and human time diverge enormously, creating a world caught midway between reality and imagination.

With his work entitled bit.fall, Julius Popp (Germany, 1973) imparts shape and form to the ceaseless bombardment of material we get from the media: key words taken from the Internet can be seen in the guise of drops of water that are visible only for a brief second in a spectacular waterfall. Marzia Migliora (Italy, 1972) alludes to a speed and media hero of the calibre of Marco Pantani, presenting a carpet designed to resemble a road, on which the legend "Vado così forte in salita per abbreviare la mia agonia [I'm going uphill so fast to make my agony that much shorter]" is symptomatic of the cyclist's performance angst and personal tragedy. Mark Formanek (Germany, 1967), with the cooperation of Datenstrudel, offers us Standard Time, a clock which may look digital but which has a "human circuit" comprising 70 workmen who are constantly shifting and assembling minutes and hours in an ironic race against time itself.

The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue in Italian and English, published by Alias — Mandragora, which explores in greater depth the themes addressed in the exhibition, with essays by Hartmut Rosa (lecturer in sociology at Jena University) on the notion of social acceleration and of time as a primary resource; Andrea Ferrara (professor of cosmology at the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa) on time and its relativity in the context of astrophysics; Alessandro Ludovico (critic and editor of the magazine Neural, devoted to digital culture) on the concept of time and acceleration in an increasingly virtual and technological society; Zygmunt Bauman (sociologist, philosopher and professor emeritus at Leeds University) on the concept of liquid modernity and life; and Sandra Bonfiglioli (lecturer with the Department of Architecture and Planning at Milan Polytechnic) on the birth of town-planning projects linked to a city's temporal structures.

Fiete Stolte, 8 Day Week Clock, 2007, Mixed Media, Courtesy Sassa Trülzsch, Photo: the artist.

Marnix de Nijs, Accelerator, 2006, Interactive installation, Courtesy the artist.