It’s about time.
Amy Stacey Curtis, a past recipient of a Maine Arts Commission fellowship and one of Maine’s most-watched contemporary artists, will open her sixth solo-biennial exhibition on Saturday.
The show is called “TIME,” and will take place as a viewer-participation exhibition throughout 16,000 square feet of Biddeford’s Pepperell Mill.
“TIME” includes nine interactive stations. The purpose of the exhibition is to encourage people to slow down, observe, interact and consider the role and effect of time in their lives.
“With any of my subjects, when people leave this show I want them to think about the theme in a different way,” she said. “We’re consumed with thinking about time and where we’re going in the future. I’m hoping that people will think about being more present and not dwelling on things that have happened already or things that will happen in the future.”
In her previous solo-biennial installations, Curtis has explored experience (2000), movement (2002), change (2004), sound (2006) and light (2008). She will continue these every-other-year efforts through 2016. Themes still to come are space, matter and memory.
In one station of her nine-station “TIME” installation, Curtis is asking people to sit on a chair in a dark, small chamber — about the size of a voting booth — for one minute. Then they will move into another identical chamber for two minutes. Then into another for three, etc., up to nine minutes.
The idea is not to look at your watch — or cell phone or some other device that connects us — but to sit quietly and gauge time.
When participants think a minute is up, they move on to the next booth. If participants complete the nine chambers, they will be sitting quietly for a total of 45 minutes.
In another component, Curtis has arranged a row of 99 hourglasses, one for each hour the exhibition is open to the public. The hourglasses are arranged equidistant on a 64-foot pedestal. Curtis will invert the first hourglass at noon Saturday, when the show opens, and then turn another each hour of the show.
For another, she crocheted a 9-by-72-foot piece of fabric, working one hour each day since summer 2009. At the opening, the fabric is laid out on the floor, one continuous piece constructed with 36 one-pound skeins of white acrylic yarn. Beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, Curtis will ask participants to undo the form, one row at a time.
The undone pieces of yarn will be placed in a 7-foot clear Plexiglass box. The piece, which is named “undoing,” will be complete when it is undone, or when the show closes.
Other components include pieces constructed with nine metronomes all working at once, nine clocks that chime on the hour, an audio montage of 99 friends who count from 1 to 60, or their perception of a minute’s length of time. It’s interesting to hear all 99 start in unison at 1, and how differently they progress through the count.
For Curtis, it’s critical that people actively participate in the exhibition, and that they follow her rules and sequences. She’s interested in seeing how people react to time and how they complete her pieces.
“Without their participation, my work remains unfinished,” she said. “My work would be static without their participation.”
Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: