World Cities (2012), Pina Bausch / Tanztheater Wuppertal. Duration: 30 hours / One month
In 2012 in London, dance company Tanztheater Wuppertal performed in a marathon series, entitled World Cities, in celebration of influential choreographer Pina Bausch. Ten works of modern dance were presented in just over a month. Each performance lasted approximately three hours.
Photo credit: Laurent Philippe
One Year Performance 1980-1981, Tehching Hsieh. Duration: One year
For one year, from April 11th, 1980 through April 11th, 1981, performance artist Tehching Hsiehpunched a time clock every hour on the hour, which limited his radius of movement and amount of sleep. This piece was documented photographically, yielding a time-lapsed video showing the passage of time visible in his steadily growing hair.
The Clock (2010), Christian Marclay. Duration: 24 hours
Christian Marclay’s The Clock unfolds on the screen in real time through thousands of film excerpts, forming a 24-hour montage. Appropriated from the last 100 years of cinema’s history, the film records the hours and minutes of the 24-hour period by displaying a watch or clock.
Der Ring des Nibelungen (1848-1874), Richard Wagner. Duration: 15 hours
This operatic cycle is a work of extraordinary scale. Perhaps the most outstanding facet of this monumental opera is its sheer length: a full performance of the cycle takes place over four nights, with a total playing time of about 15 hours, depending on the conductor’s pacing.
Extreme Isolation and Biological Clock Experiments (1962/1972), Michel Siffre. Duration: Two and six months
Can people cope with extreme isolation in a confined space? Without the Sun, what are our sleep cycles like? In 1962, geologist Michel Siffre investigated these questions by spending two months in total isolation, 375 feet deep into a subterranean glacier in the French-Italian Alps. Ten years later, he conducted a similar experiment on himself in a cave in Texas, sponsored by NASA, this time for a duration of six months. Siffre’s research was among the first to show that humans have internal clocks, with a biological day lasting slightly longer than 24 hours.
Nothingtoodoo (2011), Terence Koh. Duration: Five weeks
In Nothingtoodoo, Terence Koh was dressed in white clothes, slowly circling a cone-shaped pile of rocky solar salt — eight feet high and 24 feet across — on his knees. Staring straight ahead, his upper body motionless, he circumnavigated the salt almost non-stop during the gallery’s public hours, eight hours a day, five days a week.
Image courtesy the artist
24 Hour Psycho (1993), Douglas Gordon. Duration: 24 hours
In 1993, video artist Douglas Gordon created 24 Hour Psycho, in which the entirety of Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece was slowed down to approximately two frames per second, making the film play out over 24 hours. Gordon's work transformed an iconic work of film into a long durational experience.
Higgs Particle (1964-2012). Theory: R. Brout, F. Englert, P. Higgs, G.S. Guralnik, C.R. Hagen, and T.W.B. Kibble – Discovery: ATLAS and CMS teams at the Large Hadron Collider. Duration: 48 years
In 1964, a group of scientists theorized that some fundamental properties of particles can only be explained if an unusual kind of field exists throughout the universe. 48 years later, the theory was confirmed using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. Peter Higgs himself, one of the scientists who first proposed the Higgs particle, stated that he was pleasantly surprised that the discovery happened in his lifetime: many scientists do not live to see their theories confirmed.
Bauerntheater (2007), David Levine. Duration: One month
For David Levine’s Bauerntheater, method actor David Barlow played the role of Flint, an East German farmer in the 1950s. Barlow was taught both rudimentary German and period farming techniques to prepare for the role. He was then sent to a two-acre field in rural Brandenburg with two tons of potatoes. There, he stayed in character for a month, farming the land for ten hours a day, five days a week. For a ticket price of one euro, audience members could observe Barlow farming his field between 8 a.m and 6 p.m. from Wednesday to Sunday.
Image courtesy the artist
Crystal Formation. Duration: Endless
Cave of the Crystals or Giant Crystal Cave is a cave connected to the Naica Mine 300 metres (980 ft) below the surface in Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico. Naica lies on an ancient fault and there is an underground magma chamber below the cave. The magma heated the ground water and it became saturated with minerals, including large quantities of gypsum. The hollow space of the cave was filled with this mineral-rich hot water and remained filled for about 500,000 years. During this time, the temperature of the water remained very stable at over 50 °C (122 °F). This allowed crystals to form and grow to immense sizes.
Organ2/ASLSP (As Slow aS Possible) (2001-2640), John Cage. Duration: 639 years
In 1985, John Cage composed ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible), a composition for piano that is typically performed for 20 to 70 minutes. Cage left the duration of the piece open to the interpretation of the performer. Over the years, this piece has been performed at various durations. Beginning in 2001, at St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany, a performance of this piece arranged for organ is scheduled to last for 639 years, ending in 2640.
The Artist Is Present (2010), Marina Abramovic. Duration: 716 hours
For the duration of her retrospective of the same name at MoMA, New York, Marina Abramovic performed The Artist Is Present, a 716-hour and 30-minute silent piece, in which she sat immobile in the museum’s atrium, while spectators were invited to take turns sitting opposite her.
Courtesy Marina Abramović Archives. Photo Credit: Marco Anelli
Above are examples of immaterial and long durational works from various fields. MAI is devoted to presenting and preserving works like these.