july 27, 1973,—am burgberg,—dear nancy,—this is my writing to you, dash—, you and bob in my mind—wordless—nancy, love, hanne
One week after the passing of Nancy Holt’s partner Robert Smithson on July 20, 1973, Hanne Darboven sent Holt a hand-bound artist book composed of seven parts and filled with her characteristic wordless writing lines with this cursive dedication. Little is known about their relationship, other than that they moved in the same artistic circles in New York City in the late 1960s. The previously unexhibited work Untitled (Wordless) with its heartfelt inscription brings these groundbreaking artists together nearly half a century later.
“For the time being, in the interim, in the course of time, from day to day, from hour to hour, until, in due time, and in the fullness of time, time endures, goes on, remains, persists, lasts, goes by, elapses, passes, flows, rolls on, flies, slips, slides, and glides by.” – Nancy Holt, 1978
The title of this presentation is taken from Holt’s own words, written in May 1978. This short text was first published in a special edition of Arts Magazine dedicated to Robert Smithson.
Time goes on and remains demonstrates Holt’s and Darboven’s shared interest in revealing the particular qualities of time experienced, time measured and time passing. In distinctive ways Holt and Darboven paid attention to the systems we humans use to attempt to understand the imponderables of time and space. Both artists worked with language and seriality.
As a member of the earth, land and conceptual art movements, Holt was a pioneer of site-specific installation. She expanded the places where art could be found and embraced the new media of her time. Across five decades she asked questions about how we might understand our place in the world, investigating perception, systems, and place.
These thirty photographs document the sun’s movement from inside one of the tunnels, every half hour from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm on July 14, 1976. Viewed all together, the series is a work of aesthetic splendor. Photographs played a significant role in Holt’s investigative process: before, during, and after the construction of Sun Tunnels.
Kalenderbuch 92 / Calendar book 92 (1992) is filled with Darboven’s characteristic wordless writing lines. The form of the calendar also highlights Darboven’s central theme: time. In Darboven’s body of work, the calendar book stands for the group of calendar works. In a sense, the Kalenderbuch 92 can be situated between the artist’s private pocket calendars, which she kept regularly since her New York period in the mid-1960s and used for her work, Existenz 66–88 / Existence 66–88 (1989) and her extensive serial writing works such as Schreibzeit / Writing Time (1970–83), in which Darboven hand wrote quotations from a series of literary and philosophical texts as well as encyclopedia entries about central figures and events in history. Through the handwritten entries—a writing without words—writing as a process becomes an expression of time passing.
Nancy Holt (1938–2014). Holt is known for her earthworks, public sculpture and installation work, including the large-scale environmental works Sun Tunnels (1973–76, Great Basin Desert, Utah) and Dark Star Park (1970–84, Arlington County, Virginia). The retrospective exhibition Nancy Holt: Sightlines travelled from Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York (2010) to Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2011), Graham Foundation of Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago (2011), Tufts University Art Gallery at The Aidekman Arts Center, Boston (2012), Santa Fe Arts Institute, Santa Fe (2012) and Utah Museum of Fine Arts, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. Further solo exhibitions include Dia Art Foundation, New York (2018) and Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (both in 2013). Selected group exhibitions include Museum der Gegenwartskunst Siegen, Germany (2020), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles and Haus der Kunst, Munich (2012–13) and Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2011).
Hanne Darboven (1941–2009). Selected solo exhibitions include Kunsthalle Bern (1969), Westfälischer Kunstverein, Muenster (1971), Kunstmuseum Basel (1974), Deichtorhallen Hamburg (1991), Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven and Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (both 1986), Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1996), Staatsgalerie Stuttgart (1997), Hamburger Kunsthalle (1999 and 2006), and Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2006), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (2014), Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn and Haus der Kunst, Munich (both 2015), Deichtorhallen, Sammlung Falckenberg, Hamburg and Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (both 2017) and MKM Museum Küppersmühle für Moderne Kunst, Duisburg (2020). Selected group shows include documenta, Kassel (1972, 1977, 1982, 2002), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1970, 1981, 1989, 2000, 2006), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (1971, 1983), Museum of Modern Art, New York (1976, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2017, 2018), National Museum of Art, Osaka (1989), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (1991), The National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. (1994), Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1996), Haus der Kunst, Munich (1997, 2003, 2008), Museum für Moderne Kunst MMK, Frankfurt (2000, 2010), Centre Pompidou, Paris (2002), Hamburger Kunsthalle (2013, 2016), Kunstmuseum Basel (2014), ICA Miami (2017), Westbund Art Museum, Shanghai (2019) and Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich (2020). She represented the Federal Republic of Germany at the 1982 Venice Biennale (along with Gotthard Graubner and Wolfgang Laib).