Wristwatch that mesures millenia, podium, tinted glass and stainless steel, microphone, loudspeakers, edition of 10
In collaboration with Roman Winiger, watchmaker
Collection of the artist
BW (Black Watch or Bernatchez/Winiger) is at the centre of the Lost in Time cycle. Developed in collaboration with a Swiss watchmaker, it may look like an ordinary wristwatch, yet its face shows neither seconds nor minutes nor hours; the single hand will take a thousand years to make a full rotation. The time counted by BW is not human time and while the things around it age and perish, BW remains immutable on its pedestal, the sound of its ticking reinforcing its countdown.
This makes the object – however attractive it may be – unsuitable for daily use by humans, who cannot tell time by it. Even an entire lifetime represents only an infinitesimal portion of the dial. The inaccessibility of its information and the temporality it projects place the watch beyond the everyday object or accessory, making it a “memento mori,” a reminder of our mortality, and confirming that a lifetime – or several – would not suffice to see a complete rotation of the dial.
Definition of memento mori
Latin phrase meaning “remember that you will die.” The term is often used to describe works that seek to remind viewers of their own mortality.
Certainly my work can appear dark, even black to some eyes, but it is actually tender pink, very pale and almost sheer compared to reality. When I address a “dark” subject it is not because I’m fascinated with death but because the meaning of life escapes me. I’m resigned to death, of course, and yet, like most people, I want to live, and to better do so I invent worlds. While I was making my latest film, I rediscovered some of Henri Laborit’s ideas as I reread books like Decoding the Human Message and L’éloge de la fuite (In Praise of Flight) and listened to radio interviews he gave in the 1970s and 1980s. He often speaks of the power of imagining and creating as a means to flee a reality that can be highly constraining, at least for most of us. Creating is without doubt a unique outlet that helps me move forward through a fog of questions.