A TRIBUTE TO ON KAWARA

a performative act / an installation by Elke Buhr and Tobi Mueller

Elke Buhr and Tobi Mueller
Elke Buhr and Tobi Mueller

I GOT UP

On Kawara (1933–2014) was a Japanese conceptual artist whose work dealt with notions of time and temporality. He transformed his life into art by setting up systematic modes of day-to-day archives. In 1966 he started a well-known series called Today, which resulted in more than 2,000 “Date Paintings” that showed the respective dates in white paint on monochrome backgrounds of varying colors.

The series I Got Up spanned 1968–1979. Each day, On Kawara sent a postcard to two persons, stating nothing more than the date and the time he got up. For another series he sent telegrams stating “I am still alive.”

It is April 12 today. I am alive. I got up. Thinking about On Kawara in this time of crisis leads us to a reflection of time that is beginning to pass differently than most of us were used to until recently. How do we make sense? How do we give structure to our lives? Or: What is important?

On Kawara reminds us that life is made up of simple actions. And sometimes, or for now, it may suffice to say: I got up.

 

 ELKE BUHR

TOBI MÜLLER